CHARLESTON, W.Va. — As West Virginia has been in the national spotlight in recent weeks for COVID-19 vaccination efforts, U.S. Senator Joe Manchin says the mass vaccination events in Kanawha County can be a ‘model for the country.’
Manchin visited the latest clinic event put on by the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department (KCHD) and Kanawha County Emergency Ambulance Authority Friday at the Charleston Coliseum and Convention Center.
Dr. Sherri Young, executive director of the KCHD, told MetroNews around 2,800 were vaccinated Friday. Young and Manchin agreed that communication is the key to getting as many shots in arms as possible and said even more could be done if supply is there.
“We need more vaccines. We need more because we can do this. As we have proved last week, we can do 3,800 in a day with the amount of staff and support we have,” Young said.
She added she believes her event can average around 880 vaccinations an hour in a 12-hour day, equating to over 10,500 per day, if given the chance with supplies.
As of Friday, the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources confirmed 183,390 first doses of the vaccine have been administered in the state. West Virginia is one of seven states in the U.S. that have provided first vaccinations to more than 10% of their populations.
Manchin said that President Joe Biden’s administration is working through a depleted product line for vaccines. He said it’s not a distribution issue and Biden has promised him more doses should be available by the first two weeks of February.
He credits the Biden administration for ‘dealing with science and facts’ in handling the pandemic and not misleading the public about a vaccine.
“The previous administration was hoping it would go away, they were hoping it wasn’t real. They said ‘don’t worry after the election you won’t hear about it,'” Manchin said.
“We heard about it and it came down on us like thunder. All of that was misleading.”
More vaccinations are the focus of a $1.9 trillion covid relief package put together by the Biden administration. The package includes funding to administer 100 million vaccination shots within the new administration’s first 100 days, as previously reported by MetroNews.
The package also includes money to reopen schools and $1,400 direct payments to households. The proposal comes one month after the passage of the $900 billion coronavirus relief measure.
Manchin, like U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R- W.Va.), was part of the “908 Coalition,” the bipartisan Senate group credited with drafting the December package.
Manchin cited a March 14 date as a deadline to get relief through as that is when pandemic unemployment assistance expires. He said Friday he is confident something will get done, but it may not be Biden’s complete package.
“We want to make sure that wherever the need is, we want to fulfill that need,” Manchin said.
“We are not afraid to put more money into relief. But we shouldn’t be throwing money where it is not needed.”
During Friday’s event, Young announced KCHD is bringing back mass COVID-19 testing events beginning February 9 at Shawnee Sports Complex. The events will be every other Tuesday.