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Drive over to the Sears building for a COVID vaccine

Drive over to the Sears building for a COVID vaccine

Apr. 14, 2021

By Mary Wade Burnside

If you’re old enough to drive, you’re old enough to get a COVID-19 vaccine in West Virginia.

And now, after a few months of most individuals having to add their name to a list and wait to be contacted for a vaccine, anyone 16 and older can just go to Vaccine.WVUMedicine.org and make an appointment at a time that is convenient for them.

The Greater Monongalia County COVID-19 Vaccine Clinic, at the old Sears building at the Morgantown Mall, has been complimented for its efficiency.

In my job as public information officer at Monongalia County Health Department, I have been tasked with documenting both COVID-19 testing and vaccines. Many people do not want to be photographed while having a swab inserted into their nose. But just about everyone I have asked has said “Yes” — some even rather enthusiastically — to having their picture taken while getting a jab in their arm.

Just last week, one woman gave a “thumbs up” sign during the whole process so that I would be sure to capture her happiness at being that much closer to being protected against this pandemic that has thrown just about everyone’s life onto a different course.

After a year of posting bad news on social media and sending out press releases about COVID outbreaks and such, it’s been extremely gratifying to see individuals getting vaccines and expressing happiness and sometimes even appreciation at taking this next step. I sometimes tear up at my friends passionate social media posts emphasizing how grateful they are.

So if you haven’t signed up yet, why not? Are you worried about side effects? They are not that bad, and certainly not as dangerous as a case of COVID-19. Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines being given in the U.S. are extremely effective at reducing disease and death.

But I get it. As a health department employee, I was among the first Americans to get vaccinated in December. I admit, I expected to have more time to see others get inoculated. I was a little nervous. But when the vaccines were then delayed a couple of weeks, my emotions changed and I realized I was anxious at the prospect of NOT getting a vaccine.

When I did, I experienced very few side effects. It was mostly fatigue after the first dose and a sore arm after the second one.

As someone who does NOT have a background in science, I did actually feel good about the Messenger RNA technology used to create the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. Even though the vaccines are new, the mRNA technology has been around for a while. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “MRNA vaccines teach our cells how to make a protein—or even just a piece of a protein — that triggers an immune response inside our bodies.”

And even though the Johnson & Johnson vaccine has been paused in the United States, it remains to be seen if that will be for a very long time or just a few days or a week. Many individuals were looking forward to that vaccine because it’s a “one and done” shot.

MCHD Clinical Services hadn’t used it yet but had planned it for members of the vulnerable population for whom getting a second dose might be tricky. Jennifer Goldcamp, director of nursing at MCHD Clinical Services, noted on Tuesday that there have not been any reports of adverse reactions to the Johnson & Johnson vaccine in West Virginia.

In the meantime, individuals have been very happy to receive the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.

You can read the CDC's updated information about COVID vaccine safety.

With COVID-19 variants emerging, including a conservative estimate of around 200 cases of U.K. or California variants combined in Monongalia County, vaccines are more important than ever. Everyone wants to get back to normal.

​It might be a new normal, but it’s something that can be on the horizon, if enough people get their vaccines.

Mary Wade Burnside is the public information officer at Monongalia County Health Department.

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