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Mingo County Health Department nursing supervisor April Hall was the first person in the county to be vaccinated for COVID-19. She was administered the vaccination Tuesday afternoon, Dec. 15, by MCHD nurse Amanda Davis. The MCHD received 10 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine on Tuesday — which were given to health department employees and EMS personnel — and represented the first of two inoculations that are required of the recipient to be protected from the virus.

Health officials confirmed Tuesday, Dec. 15, that the Mingo County Health Department received the county’s first shipment of COVID-19 vaccine.

MCHD Administrator Keith Blankenship said members of the National Guard brought a total of 10 dosages of the Phizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine to the health department for frontline healthcare workers.

He said the vaccine was allocated in different quantities to health agencies in each of the state’s counties.

Blankenship said this initial allotment of vaccine represents one of two dosages the recipient is required to take for it to be effective.

The second dosage, he said, has a wait time of 21 days from the day of the initial inoculation before it can be given, and that the distribution of the second dose will be strictly for those individuals who were administered the first injection.

Blankenship said the limited number of allotments for the first dosage that each county received was based on those health department and EMS employees who beforehand signed up to participate in Phase I of the vaccination program.

Aside from frontline healthcare workers, he explained, Phase I additionally includes the residents and staff of the state’s nursing homes and assisted living facilities.

He said health officials are planning for enough vaccinations to be made available so that this first round of the program can tentatively be completed by the end of the year.

During his update at Tuesday’s regular Mingo County Board of Education meeting, Superintendent Don Spence reported that K-12 educators at all the state’s schools are additionally going to be given the opportunity to be vaccinated during what is being called Phase I-D of the program.

No specific timeframe for the launch of this phase of the program has been released, he noted.

Spence said the state’s school superintendents received the notification Tuesday from the West Virginia Department of Education, directing them to send out emails to their respective personnel about Phase I-D of the state’s vaccination plan.

He said each educator would be sent a survey for the purpose of gauging his/her level of interest in receiving the vaccine. The deadline for the survey to be completed and returned back to the WVDE, Spence added, is 4 p.m. Friday, Dec. 18.

Priority will be given to those educators 50 years of age and older, he explained, and the WV National Guard will be distributing the vaccine for this stage of the state plan as soon as it becomes available.

 As of Thursday, Dec. 17, Mingo County’s positivity rate was 7.79, marginally keeping the county in the orange category, and its infection rate was 54.28, a red designation.

A total of 13,531 people to date have been tested, with 1,172 of those having been positive cases.

There are 294 current active cases and there have been 859 recoveries. The death total now stands at 19.

Blankenship said daily testing continues to be available in Mingo County.

The specific locations and dates of testing sites will be posted each day on the MCHD’s Facebook page and website as they are determined and confirmed, he said.

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