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WILLIAMSON — The Mingo County Health Department along with a collective group of local healthcare groups and other agencies held the first ever drive-through COVID-19 vaccination event Wednesday, Jan. 6.

Statistically most susceptible to COVID-19, 260 Tug Valley area residents ages 80 and older were the first group of the general public offered the vaccine.

“This was a part of the Governor’s Mass Vaccination Program. Seven health departments across the state are doing it in the next couple days,” Mingo County Health Department Administrator Anthony Keith Blankenship said. “But we were the first to get on board with our event today.”

Blankenship said that the health department staff came to the event with 570 available doses of the COVID-19 available and said he initially hoped they would administer 200 doses, but they surpassed that number.

Blankenship said that all 260 people who received the COVID-19 vaccine will have to return for their second dose in 28 days.

“West Virginia and the CDC has a system called VAMS, which is the Vaccine Administration Management System,” Blankenship said. “We entered everyone that received their first dose in that system on the spot today. We have Surface Pros and iPads, and we’re entering everyone directly in, and they can automatically keep track of it.”

This vaccination event was a joint effort among Mingo County Health Department, Williamson Health & Wellness Center, Hurley Drug Co., and the Mingo Extended Learning Center Nursing Program, Mingo County Emergency Management, STAT Ambulance Services, Mingo County Sheriff’s Department, WV National Guard and others.

A second free COVID-19 vaccination event for people 80 years of age and older is also scheduled to be held at the Larry Joe Harless Community Center from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 12.

No appointment is needed as plenty of vaccines available, according to the health department.

The center is located at 202 Larry Joe Harless Drive in Gilbert. All seniors over the age of 80 are welcome from any county.

Tug Valley area residents are asked to follow the Mingo County Health Department’s Facebook page for updates on when other vaccine events will be scheduled in the area.

For more information on the COVID-19 vaccine and West Virginia’s distribution plan, visit https://dhhr.wv.gov/COVID-19/Pages/Vaccine.aspx.

According to the WV COVID-19 dashboard as of 10 a.m. Monday, Jan. 11, Mingo County has reported a total of 1,656 cases of COVID-19, with 517 cases listed as active as of Monday and 1,119 residents listed as recovered. The county has also reported 20 deaths related from complications due to COVID-19.

The Mingo County Health Department urges the community to continue to practice social distancing, wear face coverings and obey all governor’s executive orders.

For more information about COVID-19 visit the health department Facebook page, www.coronavirus.wv.gov or www.cdc.gov/coronavirus.

Jarrid McCormick is a reporter for the Williamson Daily News. He can be reached by email at jmccormick@HDMediaLLC.com.