A new statewide registry has been established for people wanting to receive COVID-19 vaccines and serves a two-fold purpose — to make distribution efforts more organized and to reduce the amount of work on already overburdened county health departments.

Across West Virginia, vaccine distribution has been conducted in many formats ranging from in-person group settings to community drive-through events to appointment-only clinics. The wide array distributions efforts have led to quite a bit of confusion. Because of this the state has implemented and studied several ways make the process more efficient.

One plan, which was met with a great deal of criticism, was to set up a limited number of vaccine distribution hubs in the larger counties of various geographic regions within the state. Widespread backlash resulted in that plan being quickly done away with. Beginning next week, vaccine distribution clinics will once again be conducted in each of the state’s 55 counties.

However, the new registry is an attempt to make those distributions more organized and efficient. People who register will be called when a vaccine clinic will be conducted near their homes and will be given a specific time to receive a vaccine.

Each person who registers will be placed in assigned geographical zones. They will be contacted when a clinic will be held in or near their specific zone and as they meet CDC (Centers for Disease Control) guidelines.

All state residents are strongly encouraged to register for a COVID-19 vaccine whether you fall into the current distribution guidelines or not. As the vaccine rollout expands, you will automatically be in line for the vaccine. The longer you wait to sign up, the farther down on the list you may be placed.

The registry officially started earlier this week. More than 100,000 people have already registered. Gov. Jim Justice and his state COVID-19 leadership team said there have been a few glitches with the system — mostly caused by the sheer number of people wanting the vaccine — but they have been corrected.

Those wishing to register for the vaccine may do so by electronic methods or by using a call center. The website is www.vaccinate.wv.org and is linked to the state’s Department of Health and Human Resources’ website. The call center may be reached by dialing (800) 887-4304. Both methods are maintained by the state of West Virginia which means they are secure and confidential.

Widespread community immunity to the COVID-19 virus is the only way to cure this worldwide pandemic and vaccination is the only way to achieve that necessary “herd” immunity.

Many people are fearful about taking the vaccine. There are lots of questions, misunderstandings and opinions about it. Lines have been drawn in the sand by both people who are in favor of the vaccine and those who are opposed to the COVID-19 vaccination. Because of this, the Mingo County Health Department offers quite a bit of data and information to help area residents make an informed decision.

We at the Mingo Messenger strongly encourage you to take advantage of the new system and register for your vaccination. In the simple message of Gov. Justice, “Just take the shot.”