PARKERSBURG — The first batch of COVID-19 vaccine shots in Parkersburg were given out at WVU Medicine Camden Clark Medical Center on Tuesday.
Issued out at 6 a.m., the first two to receive the shots were the hospital’s Emergency Department Director Brian Richardson and David Gnegy, President of Parkersburg Cardiology Associates.
Seeing positive cases in Wood County and the Mid-Ohio Valley on the rise in the last month. Richardson, believing that a vaccine will help prevent the spread of the virus, volunteered as one of the first to receive the vaccine shot.
“I was obviously eager to volunteer to be part of this. I’m a firm believer that the vaccination of our community could help decrease some of the surges that we’re seeing,” Richardson said. “As somebody who works to try to prevent the spread of this and was also exposed, potentially, and dealing with this, I was very eager to obtain the vaccination.”
Part of phase 1-A in the states vaccination program timeline, the first doses will go to long-term care facility staff, emergency medical services personnel, hospital staff, state and local health department personnel, clinic and outpatient staff, home health and hospice workers, pharmacy employees, dental office staff, and other healthcare workers.
Rhonda Boso-Suggs, Camden Clark’s Assistant Vice President of Ancillary Services, said Camden Clark approached about 750 individuals and around 60 percent agreed to take a vaccine shot.
“We had to indicate to the federal government very early on how many frontline workers would be in the first phase of administration, which is those that are actually hands-on with patients,” Boso-Suggs said. “So based on those numbers we submitted, we were given an allotment of vaccines and so the schedule is going to be more dependent on the vaccine availability.”
Boso-Suggs also said employees are strongly encouraged to take the vaccine due to being a frontline health care worker, but it is not a mandatory vaccine.
In preparing for a situation like this, Camden Clark formed a task force, as well as working with Jackson General Hospital in Jackson County to develop an activation plan to administer the vaccine.
“We’ve been working for about three months behind the scenes to get ready for this day. We had a plan in place to be able to receive the vaccine from our hub site to pick it up, to transport it here, store it here, and then begin administering it today,” Boso-Suggs said Tuesday.
Working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Camden Clark uses CDC’s software program called the Vaccine Administration Management System (VAMS) using the participant’s contact information to schedule apportionments and is appointment only, said Boso-Suggs.
Phase 1-B includes teachers and education staff, critical state services, continuity of government, utilities, and transportation. Phase 2 will include the general populace.
Phase 1 vaccinations will take place between December and February as doses become available. Phase 2 vaccinations will likely start in March.
Those participating in the vaccine shots will have to take a second dose 21 days after getting the first and the vaccine will be fully in effect two weeks after the second, according to Boso-Suggs. Participants will still need to follow proper social distancing guidelines and continue to wear face masks and/or eye coverings.
Some of the side-effects of the shot could be some soreness at the injection site, some body aches, low-grade fever, and in some cases, an allergic reaction may occur.
Richardson said that the shot was quick and surprisingly comfortable with no pain at all.
“Compared to a tetanus shot or a flu shot, it actually hurt much less. So I was surprised. It’s a fairly small quantity of injection, I think it’s 0.3 ml of injection and it really had no burn or sting to it at all,” Richardson said. “The only thing I felt was the small needle that they used to administer it with. It was really quite comfortable.”
Richardson did say however that the soreness and immune response reactions have a greater chance of occurring when taking the second dose.
David Pickering from Mountain State Diabetes said he has been waiting for the vaccine since March and even signed up his entire office for shots as well.
“I got the first email about this probably a month ago, so I signed myself and my office up for shots. I got an email from the CDC over the weekend, saying that I was approved to come in and get my shot. As soon as they opened up the schedule, I got the first available spot.” Pickering said.
Also receiving vaccine shots was Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist Karen Jameson due to her husband being immunocompromised and wanting to be protected from being potentially exposed to the virus daily.
“I think it’s great, as far as side effects, it was easy. This was easier than any shot I’ve had this season.”