WHEELING — Preparations to administer the COVID-19 vaccine to children as young as 5 years old are already underway, and local health departments could start administering the dose as early as Friday, once the state nods.
Both Wheeling-Ohio County and Marshall County health departments said on Wednesday that the clinics plan to distribute the pediatric vaccine Friday, once the state health department approves it. Representatives from both provinces added that pediatric doses of the vaccine would be delivered from Wednesday.
“Ours is being picked up right now, right now,” Ohio County health administrator Howard Gamble said about 11 a.m. Wednesday. “It will be collected and held, along with all supplies, until we get the official nod from the state.”
Pediatric vaccines will be distributed at both the county clinic in The Highlands and evening clinics at Ohio County schools, beginning Monday.
According to the Ohio County Schools Facebook page, a clinic will be held Friday from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. in the Highlands, then Nov. 10 at Bridge Street Middle School, Nov. 12 at Madison Elementary School, and Nov. 16 at Warwood School, all from 4 p.m. -19:00
“We’ve been trying to create locations with ample parking, that are central, … or whether it’s an area we should focus on,” Gamble added. “One of our providers is also going to help with school systems. We have a tentative plan with school systems starting next week. The first round of vaccines could be distributed as early as Friday, but everything depends on the approval of the state health department.”
In Ohio County, the county education board will use their contacts to notify parents of evening clinics available in schools, while private schools will be notified of when the clinics will be held, along with pamphlets and information for dissemination.
In Moundsville, the Ladies League of Marshall County and First Choice Realtors donated $300 each to buy a two-pack of epinephrine for Marshall County’s health department. While the health department has the drug on hand, the epi-pen could provide a faster response time, which Mark Ackermann, director of threat preparedness, prompted the department to keep on hand.
The donations of epinephrine saved the county health department $600, which would otherwise have been needed to get out of the department’s funds. He added that two other groups had offered to provide identical donations.
“If you have a child who has an allergic reaction, we don’t want to wait,” Ackermann said. “These fine folks here donated $300 each for a box of epinephrine for these kids. … It’s $600, that should come out of one of our budgets in the health department. It wasn’t an expense we expected. We just got the kids (vaccine) got in today. It came without epinephrine that the federal government had said would come.”
“We can’t thank you all enough for this. We should have gotten this from another program. … With all the overtime and everything this year, this saves us so much”, Ackermann also told the gathered donors.
Present in the health department Wednesday were Cassie Sherman, who represented the Marshall County Ladies League, and Tom Carpenter and Kevin McGilton, of First Choice Realtors.
“We look forward to helping any children or anyone in the health field,” McGilton added. “We jumped right on this to hopefully help. Hopefully they don’t need it, but if they do, it’s available to them.”
Gamble said health department staff is willing to address the differences in how the vaccine is administered to children and adults.
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