The following is an article submitted by Lisa M. Costello, MD, MPH, FAAP, a physician working in an advisory capacity in West Virginia’s COVID-19 response. Dr. Costello is Vice-President of the West Virginia State Medical Association, Assistant Professor in the School of Medicine at West Virginia University, and President of the WV Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics.
West Virginia Leads the Nation in Vaccine Administration Rate
West Virginia has experienced landmark times in the pandemic response these past few weeks as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted authorization for two COVID-19 vaccines in December 2020.
West Virginia is currently leading the nation in our vaccine administration rate. Having delivered vaccine to health workers and completed a first round of shots at all of our long-term care facilities, we are now administering second doses and moving on to other populations, including people age 80 and over, and teachers who are 50 and older.
Following the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines and West Virginia's data, our state has planned an overlapping phased approach to offering vaccines based on four principles to drive decisions about which high-risk groups receive the vaccine while it is in limited supply. The driving principles are: (1) protect the most vulnerable, (2) reduce deaths, (3) reduce hospitalizations, and (4) maintain critical services and acute care. Based on that, groups such as healthcare workers, first responders, residents and staff of long-term care facilities, people over the age of 80, and K-12 and higher education school personnel have been getting vaccinated as the state works through the continued rollout. As vaccine availability increases over the coming months, more and more of the general public will have the opportunity to choose to be vaccinated with this safest path toward community immunity.
You might be wondering whether you should trust a COVID-19 vaccine. The COVID-19 vaccine development process has been the fastest we have seen to date because the entire medical, scientific, and public health communities, building upon prior research technology, mobilized like never before to end this pandemic. Clinical trials with tens of thousands of people showed that vaccination is highly effective in preventing COVID-19 and caused no serious adverse effects.
Independent experts advising the FDA, scientists and researchers, and West Virginia health care leaders trust the safety and effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines. Expert committees agree that these vaccines have met rigorous, scientific standards of safety and quality, and should be made available for use by the public.
This is a time to be hopeful, because the COVID-19 vaccine can help end this pandemic, protect the health and wellbeing of our communities, and get our economy moving again.
I chose to receive the COVID-19 vaccine to not only protect myself, but the people around me—particularly those at risk of severe COVID-19 illness – and encourage others to do the same. When large numbers of people in a community are vaccinated, fewer people get sick, saving lives, ensuring that the healthcare system can continue to meet the needs of those it is intended to serve, and getting us back to normal lives as soon as possible.
Each of us must continue to do our part to prevent the spread of the virus. Stopping a pandemic requires using all the public health tools we have available, and vaccination is our strongest tool yet.
This story is provided by AARP West Virginia. Visit the AARP West Virginia page for more news, events, and programs affecting retirement, health care, and more.
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