How did West Virginia become a national leader in Kovid vaccination?

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Bunker Hill, West Virginia – Since December, Ken Reid and his wife Tally, owners of a small chain of pharmacies in eastern West Virginia, have traveled from the morning to travel to rural counties to vaccinate several long-term care residents Are awake .

Reeds says that his identification with people like Jefferson, Berkeley, Morgan, and Pendleton makes all the difference in gaining his trust.

Ken Reid said, “These are your neighbors, your friends, your friend’s parents and you treat them the way you want them to be treated.”

West Virginia, a small and mostly rural state with a large elderly population, was quickly tagged as a location likely to contend with Kovid-19 and any vaccine rollout.

According to the Centers for Disease Control data, the state is now being portrayed as a vaccine success story, with 85 percent of its delivered dose already being used, which was the second in the nation behind North Dakota as of last week Is in place.

An important part of the strategy, health officials say, was the decision not to activate a federal partnership with CVS and the Walgren pharmacy chain and instead rely on independent drugstores owned by Reeds.

Ken and Tally Reid go through the paperwork and vaccine data at their kitchen table.NBC News

Dr. Coronovirus Caesar and Vice President of West Virginia at West Virginia University and Executive Dean of Health Services, Drs. “We are in a very abusive situation,” said Clay Marsh.

“But we completely rely on the creativity and innovation of all our people. Because we don’t want to depend on the needs of external resources for ourselves, we can do what we need to do.”

West Virginia’s initial success is that a study published by the Kaiser Family Foundation in April 2020 ranked it as the state with the largest share of adults at risk of serious illness when infected with Kovid.

In the Appalachian state known for the country’s roads, mountains and dying coal industry, the population has long suffered from high rates of comorbidities, including smoking and chronic conditions that drive its low overall health ranking.

But the state’s unique features in many ways supported its Kovid response.

Dr. Johnny Hopkins, Director of the Department of Emergency Medicine, Dr. Gabor Kellen stated that the relatively small and homogenous population contributed to its success. And the state actually improves the nation in some aspects of health care, including access to primary care physicians and the percentage of patients insured. According to US Census Bureau data, 9 percent are only 6 percent compared to the national level.

“At least in the public health system it allows people to believe …” Access to primary care physicians in the public health system, Kellan said.

The majority of that population lives on a 45-minute drive from any outlet of the pharmacy chain that dominates most other states. Health officials say local independent pharmacists, such as Reeds, are best positioned to provide operational and medical expertise.

Ken Reid said there was no red tape involved in the state’s vaccination effort when he received a call from a health officer.

“Because we are the owners,” he said, as he and wife Tally were laughing. “There is no middle management. … He asked if we could do this, and there was no decision-making series. He hit the top of the decision-making series. “

West Virginia was actually far ahead of the nation in its Kovid response from the onset of the epidemic due to careful planning and – again – its close, small-town culture. He said a serious encounter in a football game gave the state an edge in the Kovid test last spring.

Two months before the White House required testing of all nursing home residents in mid-May, West Virginia was already in talks with a national chain of blood and medical testing sites, an executive at LabCorp.

Dr. Marsh, the state Kovid czar, executive, a graduate of West Virginia University, met at a college football game in Morgantown. Marsh got in touch and the two men were soon preparing a state-wide test, which they completed on 5 March. Their public-private partnership tested all 28,000 people in West Virginia nursing homes in just two weeks.

The state also formed a “team of teams” – to quickly arrive and run an operations command center to take advantage of the National Guard, which focuses on inter-agency communications and with the Department of Health and Human Resources, Governor’s Office Works, and State Health Officer.

Ashton Prussia, a WVU pharmacy student, talks with Richard Thomas as she prepares for her second vaccine on January 27, 2021.Jennifer Shepherd / WVU

The National Guard has been involved with the state’s response since November, with distribution going on from five centers in the state. This includes equipment support for the receipt and transport of the vaccine – helping to return those vials and appropriate refrigerated containers to sites where stability can be maintained.

Through a partnership with another company, Everbridge, the consortium has now created a pre-registry system to assign each person a place in the line and inform them when and where they can be vaccinated. In the first four days after launching the system, Marsh says more than 100,000 people signed on.

After initially experimenting at first-come, first-served POW clinics, he says it was trial and error that led his team to the registry platform. Without the ability to predict the precise dose allocation it would receive each week, it was a challenge to meet demand – something that pre-registry systems are intended to address.

According to the CDC, as of Saturday, West Virginia had given more second doses per capita than any other state, with more than 3 percent of the population fully vaccinated.

Or, as Ken Reid puts it, “We crushed it.”

Reid spends his nights and early mornings on his kitchen table through paperwork and inputting data to track state-administered doses. Kane says they are also taken to misinformation about the vaccine – which they call “garbage – social media”.

Ken and Tally Reid.Courtesy Ken and Tally Reid

In line with the state’s progress, Reeds completed his share of the second dose in long-term care centers last week and is set to work in schools.

“There is nothing like being able to help your neighbor,” said Tally.

According to CDC data, until last week, case rates in West Virginia have started to decline and are down about 35 percent from the previous week.

“We have seen a drastic reduction in transmission, hospitalization, ICU hospitalization, ventilator usage… I am referring this to the vaccine.

But Marsh said it would be too early to adopt victory.

Supply remains an important issue. Marsh’s team says it is currently deployed to vaccinate 23,600 people each week and has the capacity to scale up to 100,000 – but not the necessary supply of vaccines.

“We need more,” he said. While the allocation is currently based on population, negotiations with the federal government have promised additional doses of the modern vaccine. “We are very optimistic. But right now the supply chain does not seem capable of meeting the opportunity. “

Remote rural communities in West Virginia also remain a challenge. Approximately 40 percent of residents do not have access to broadband internet, which makes connectivity a challenge due to the topography.

To find out that Marsh’s team is building mobile vaccination vans and engaging with local health departments and faith-based organizations, pay special attention to groups and communities of color.

“When it comes to helping each other out, lifting each other up, West Virginia does the best,” Marsh said. “And now we are watching.”

For a native West Virginian like Marsh, success in the face of so much adversity has also burnt the image of his kingdom.

“Right now we are changing the story externally,” he said. “And we are not to do this. But this is actually a huge side effect. “

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