MOVHD starts vaccine list
PARKERSBURG – Within a day of its creation, a stand-by list for people age 65 and older wanting the COVID-19 vaccine grew to more than 5,000 names.
With just 500 vaccination slots available for today’s clinic at West Virginia University at Parkersburg, the department announced Wednesday it would fill those and future appointments from the list, rather than have people call the department.
West Virginia residents – regardless of their county of residence – can be added to the list via online registration or calling the 211 information line between 8:30 a.m. and 4 p.m. weekdays.
The department announced the standby list Tuesday, the same day state officials announced a phone line would open at noon Wednesday to make appointments for today’s clinic. But on Wednesday morning, a post to the local Health Department’s Facebook page said the appointments would be filled from the stand-by list.
“We know and understand this will not be a popular decision,” the post said. “The state was notified of our decision.”
The state’s announcement included clinics in other counties that were full and utilizing existing wait lists to determine who would receive vaccinations.
“Unfortunately, there is no good way for us to handle these requests,” the post said, “and we want to be fair and equitable so we will continue to accept people to the standby list.”
In a press release issued Wednesday morning, the MOVHD said people can get on the stand-by list online at http://bit.ly/movhdcovid. Those without Internet access can call the 211 information and referral line between 8:30 a.m. and 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.
“Some of them just don’t have Internet access or don’t have a family member advocating for them,” said Stacy DeCicco, executive director of the United Way Alliance of the Mid-Ohio Valley, which operates the 211 line.
While 211 is in operation 24 hours a day, people can only get access to the stand-by list for vaccinations between 8:30 a.m. and 4 p.m. DeCicco recommended using the online registration to clear up the lines for folks who don’t have another option.
“It’s really simple, and it’s time-stamped,” she said.
United Way staff members were answering the phones Wednesday and had fielded more than 350 calls as of 2:30 p.m., DeCicco said. If that call volume continues, they may need volunteer assistance, she said, although that would be limited due to safety precautions regarding the virus.
DeCicco added that it is important to include a usable telephone number when registering so they can answer when the Health Department calls back. Someone helping an older family member might want to leave their own number so they can register if that relative has hearing difficulties, she said.
The release said the first people to get on the list would be contacted first. According to the Facebook post, if an individual did not answer, no message would be left.
“If you do not answer, we will leave you on the list but will move on to the next person,” the post said.
People cannot get an appointment by walking in to the Health Department office.
State officials recently opened the vaccinations to people 65 and older, a move that frustrated Parkersburg resident Jim Sterrick, who said he at 87 and his 83-year-old wife still had not gotten appointments Wednesday.
“I’ve probably made 100 phone calls if I’ve made one,” he said. “The biggest error in the system is lowering the age before they knew that everyone that wants to get one” on the older ranges has gotten one, he said.
Sterrick said his son was able to get him and his wife on the stand-by list Tuesday but he had not received a call for an appointment as of Wednesday morning.
Evan Bevins can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.