'RELIEF:' Mineral County residents turn out to clinic to receive vaccine
By Liz Beavers
Tribune Managing Editor
KEYSER - Keyser resident Pat Droppleman said Wednesday she was relieved to finally be able to get her first COVID-19 vaccine.
“We’ve been waiting awhile,” she said as Cathy Harman, an RN from WVU Medicine Potomac Valley Hospital, expertly slid the needle into Droppleman’s upper arm muscle.
At the next table, located a socially distant six feet from where Droppleman sat, her husband Jim received his first dose.
Once the injections were done, the two were each given a hand-held timer set for 15 minutes and told to have a seat to wait out their time to ensure there weren’t going to be any adverse reactions.
All in all, the vaccination process took less than 10 minutes, not counting the wait after.
That was the case for each one of the approximately 500 who went to Keyser Fire Station No. 2 Wednesday for Mineral County’s first mass vaccination clinic.
In fact, several people said it took longer to get their vehicles parked than it did to get the vaccine.
From the Mineral County Sheriff’s Deputies and volunteers who helped direct traffic to the volunteers from the Mineral County Family Resource Network who greeted the residents once inside, and the eight nurses who quickly administered the vaccine, each resident was taken care of quickly and efficiently.
“We’re doing 300 this morning, and around 225 this afternoon,” Mineral County Health Department administrator A.Jay Root told the News Tribune.
Most of the 225 scheduled for the afternoon session were receiving their second dose.
The health department has been administering some vaccine at its Harley O. Staggers Dr. location, and Mineral County residents have been included in the regional clinics held at the Moorefield Armory.
Root estimates “close to a thousand” Mineral Countians have received their vaccine thus far, but there are still “about 1,300-1,400 on the local wait list.”
And since the registration process has gone online through a statewide network, he says he has no idea how many others are signed up after that.
So far, appointments at the clinics - both in the county and in the region - have immediately filled up just with the names on the local wait list.
Root says though the county could vaccinate even more - if they just had the vaccine.
Like other counties in the state, he says the clinics are being held up by the slowness with which the vaccine is being shipped.
“We’re getting 300 doses this week; that’s the most we’ve had. Usually we’ve been getting around 120,” he said.
Root says the nurses administering the vaccine have been getting some extra doses out of the vials, but it’s still not enough to meet demand.
“We’re doing the best we can with what we’re being given,” he said. “It’s not a local issue; it’s not a state issue. It’s just the vaccine is not being produced fast enough.”
Each time the health department has held a clinic, Root has striven to improve the process as much as he can.
“We did 200 last week at the health department. I knew we needed to get a bigger location,” he said. He is thankful the Keyser Volunteer Fire Department came through with the solution to that need, and they will continue to provide the location for future clinics.
In addition, Root thanks WVU Medicine Potomac Valley Hospital, Keyser Med-a-Save, the Mineral County Family Resource Network, Mineral County Schools, the Mineral County Sheriff’s Office, and Office of Emergency Management for assisting with the clinic in various ways.
Rainbow Lanes allowed the use of their parking lot.
Not wanting to leave anyone out, Root also solicited the help of son Peyton, who sanitized the clipboards used by the residents to fill out their paperwork.
Root says he is grateful for the large number of volunteers who have assisted with the various clinics, and he tries to get as many involved as possible because the process is not going to end any time soon.
“This is going to be long-term,” he said, explaining that he expects it to be March or April before they are able to vaccinate just those 65 and older.
“Our thing is being able to have volunteers to be able to do this week in and week out,” he said.
Mineral County Technical Center LPN instructor Amy DelSignore says, however, that she has been happy to assist with the clinics, and the process has proven to be beneficial for her students as well.
“We were doing a lot of the testing,” she said, explaining between vaccinations that the nursing students were able to satisfy some of their clinical requirements by participating in the testing sites and the clinics.
“We also want to give back to our community,” she said. “We want to do our part.”