Local pharmacies playing key role in vaccine distribution

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Officials now say the first round of the two-part COVID-19 vaccine has been administered at all 214 nursing homes and long-term care facilities.

Krista Capehart, director of professional regulatory affairs for the West Virginia Board of Pharmacy and associate professor of pharmacy at WVU, helped coordinate the effort. Capehart said it was a monumental tasks, but one the medical community in the state was prepared to execute.

Krista Capehart

“It’s been a tremendous effort- team work, setting up the infrastructure and the framework to be able to do this,” Capehart said during an appearance Tuesday on MetroNews “Talkline.” “West Virginia really is a close knit community.”

Under the West Virginia model, the two-week wait period following authorization was used to energize and prepare the network of people including local pharmacies to get the job done before some states had even started the process.

“From the time drug was first authorized it would be about two weeks before shots could be provided,” Capehart said. “We felt like we could use that time in a better manner if we used connections in the state and opened it up to all of our pharmacies.”

Gov. Jim Justice, state Coronavirus Czar Dr. Clay Marsh and others have stressed how important it is to vaccinate nursing home residents as quickly as possible. West Virginia residents 70 and older make up 77.5% of people who have died from COVID-19 and people over 75 are much more likely to die compared to those in the 18-39 age group.

According to Capehart, the effort was one step at a time and one day at a time.

“It was really a giant puzzle, creating that infrastructure, creating the program,” Capehart said. “So, we matched up our long-term care facilities, in many cases with the pharmacies that were already providing their pharmacy day-to-day services with those facilities.”

As this part of the vaccination plan is executed, Capehart said lessons are being learned about the wider vaccine roll-out that will continue in the months to come.

“We collect the information on who needs to be vaccinated in additional phases and we provide the pharmacists with who they are vaccinating in their community,” she said.

Next week, second doses will begin to be administered at nursing homes as plans continue to get the vaccine to all corners of the state.

“We’re partnering with our local health departments, we’re partnering with the hospitals in the state,” Capehart said. “It truly is one big teamwork exercise to ensure we can reach all the people of West Virginia as quickly as possible.”





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