CHARLESTON — West Virginia Health Officer Dr. Ayne Amjad said the Mercer County Health Department was “very cooperative” during a visit Tuesday by a team from the state Bureau of Public Health.
The team was sent there by Amjad to look into how the department operates after the wrong dosages of the Covid Moderna boosters were administered at an Oct. 28 vaccine clinic hosted by the health department.
Residents received full doses rather than the approved half doses, and the mistake resulted in a temporary “hold” placed on any vaccination administration by the department until the issue is resolved.
Amjad said during Gov. Jim Justice’s pandemic briefing Wednesday that several members of the county board of health were there on Tuesday as well.
“They (the state team) did their investigation as far as the vaccine error goes,” she said, and the same procedure is in place to look into any vaccine errors in any county.
Amjad said the purpose is to make sure vaccines are administered correctly and any problems will be fixed at the county level.
The team will issue a report on their visit, which will be sent to the board of health.
As part of the repercussions of the vaccine error, health department administrator Roger Topping submitted his resignation to the board Tuesday night during a special meeting.
Topping accepted responsibility for the mistake and requested his resignation be effective in 30 days, but the board voted unanimously to accept the resignation, effective immediately.
Amjad did not address the resignation, saying those personnel decisions are made at the county level by the board of health.
No timeline has been given on when that report will be finalized or when the health department can resume administering vaccinations, and the hold does not impact the usual services offered by the department.
Board member Robb Williams said Tuesday night the board will review the report, follow any recommendations and work to restore community confidence in the department.
Board Chair Dr. Randy Maxwell praised employees at the department, saying they work hard and “give 110 percent.”
Andrea Lannom, public information officer for the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources, Bureau for Public Health, said Wednesday Covid-19 vaccines are available in Mercer County through Four Seasons, Kroger, Walgreens, and Bluestone Health Center.
During the pandemic briefing, state officials once again urged residents to get vaccinated and get booster shots, cautioning that with colder weather and indoor gatherings, Covid cases could rise again.
“There is a chance it could worsen,” Justice said of a new surge. “This thing could jump and jump very ugly…”
State Covid-19 Czar Dr. Clay Marsh said boosters are essential to maintain effectiveness against the virus, especially in older people.
But out of about 550,000 age 50 and over who have been fully vaccinated, only 48,000 have received boosters.
“These people should absolutely run to the fire,” Marsh said, adding that another surge is possible. “I personally don’t understand why people are not doing that (getting a booster).”
Justice said that without the boosters, “a bunch of people are going to die.”
He called refusal to get a booster a “terrible decision.”
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