‘Dose of hope’: Elderly receive COVID-19 vaccine in Williamson, WV

WILLIAMSON, WV. (MTN) — Almost a year has passed since West Virginia saw its first case of COVID-19 back on March 17, 2020. After numerous First Responders and health care workers have vaccinated, efforts are now focused on the elderly population as vaccines were administered to those who have are more susceptible to complications with COVID-19.

Keith Blankenship, the Administrator at the Mingo County Health Department, says that 48 hours ago, they received word that around 570 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine would be available for distribution by their department.

Since they provided free COVID-19 testing at the Williamson Memorial Hospital around April of last year, the health department decided to administer free COVID-19 vaccinations to the public. The only requirement being whoever wanted to participate and receive the vaccine must be 80 years of age or older.

“”We have a lot of sectors in our population who need to be vaccinated quickly… but, I think it’s a good choice to start with the elderly,” states Blankenship.

With a total of 22 deaths in Mingo County, the majority of which are of the age 65 and older, Blankenship says addressing the more vulnerable population could help lower their death rate as the elderly are more susceptible to complications from COVID-19.

I spoke with Karen Justus who said that there was no distance too far to drive her father Joshua to receive the COVID-19 vaccination and his previous ailments put him at a higher risk than most his age.

“He’s older and we’re really concerned because he’s got black lung from the coal mines,” says Justus. “We traveled an hour and a half for him to get this shot… it’s freedom that I can take him his supper and medicines and not have that worry.”

Blankenship says that the drive-through was a success and that they plan to hold more events in the upcoming weeks.