If you haven’t seen him on television yet, Gov. Jim Justice seems to be making the rounds on as many network news shows that will book him to tout the state’s rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine.
He has many people believing that the state is No. 1 in the U.S. in “getting shots in arms,” as he has called it.
And now, the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources — with Justice’s approval — has spent $760,000 to deploy the Everbridge statewide registration and scheduling system for residents who are anxiously wanting to sign up for their COVID vaccination.
His Jan. 21 announcement and Jan. 25 Everbridge launch came one week after the Marion County Health Department had already spent time and resources to set up a COVID Call Center at Middletown Commons where folks could get tested and vaccinated in the same location.
So, now with Everbridge in the picture, does Marion County keep its COVID Call Center? It probably won’t stop unvaccinated seniors from calling for information on how they can get the vaccination.
And, once a person signs up on the state’s Everbridge site and puts their information in their database, who manages the database to ensure that that person gets a call at the proper time when it’s their demographic group’s turn to get the vaccine?
And what will happen to all of the residents who entered their data into the Marion County Health Department’s online form prior to Everbridge going online? There are too many questions and not enough health care staff to take their phone calls to give them an answer.
Also, this week, the Marion County Health Department announced it was told by the DHHR that its office will be receiving 260 doses of the COVID vaccine a week, but we were not told how long the office will receive the weekly allotment. And while Monongalia and Harrison counties will soon have mega-vaccination centers set up in former storefronts at local shopping malls, it appears Marion County residents still will be forced to drive north or south to get their vaccination because 260 doses simply is not enough.
Every health care professional in America is now learning and admitting that there is not enough vaccine supply to go around and meet the demand. Earlier this week, President Joe Biden ordered 200 million more does of the vaccine a couple of days after stating his administration wanted to administer 100 million doses in his first 100 days in office.
Other states, such as Florida, are having much more success in getting the vaccinations in residents’ arms. There, the state has struck a deal with the ubiquitous supermarket chain Publix to deploy the vaccinations. And early reports say that their plan is working swimmingly.
Is it fair to compare West Virginia and Florida? Not exactly. We do know, however, that the answer to all of this is still going to be getting a solid supply of the vaccine so people can fend off COVID and we can all move closer to getting back to normal.
What is certain is that it’s going to be at least the end of April before the vaccine is injected into enough people for health care officials to even begin using such words as herd immunity or say that it’s time to return to some sort of life we once had.