It’s been a full year since the nation’s first confirmed COVID-19 case. With federal plans to amp up vaccinations as soon as possible, it’s important to take a look at how Appalachian states are responding to, and in some cases leading, vaccination efforts.
Here are a few examples:
The Mountain State made Associated Press headlines for being first in the nation to complete first doses offerings to all long-term care centers before the end of December. West Virginia expects to administer their second doses by the end of January. By enlisting 250 local mom-and-pop pharmacies to vaccinate residents, rather than relying on national chains like CVS or Walgreens, state data reports at least 7.4% of the state’s population has already received the first of two shots.
Earlier in January, Governor Andy Beshear (D-KY) announced a program to prioritize vaccinations for all K-12 staffers, and is among only 19 U.S. states to do so. Gov. Beshear also mentioned Kentucky’s plans to complete their first round of vaccinations by first week of February. “The entire commonwealth owes all our teachers, bus drivers and school staff a tremendous debt of gratitude. Now, once again, they are answering the call as we prioritize their vaccinations in an effort to get our schools fully reopened. On behalf of everyone in the commonwealth, we thank you.” said Gov. Beshear.
The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services launched a new online tool for individuals to check when they will be eligible to get their vaccine. Find My Vaccine Group is helping state achieve their goal of vaccinating residents as quickly as possible. As of January 25th, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ranked North Carolina 10th in total vaccines administered and 29th in vaccines administered per 100,000 people.
Based in Athens, Ohio, Stirling Ultracold has become a critical player in the nation’s vaccine distribution infrastructure. Stirling Ultracold is a manufacturing company which employs 200 Ohioans and develops portable Ultra-Low Temperature (ULT) freezers. Their products are currently being used to transfer vaccines from manufacturers to local hospitals, pharmacies, and other healthcare providers for safe storage until administration. The freezer is capable of storing both the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines for extended periods of time. ARC has invested in Ohio University’s Voinovich School and Innovation Center, both of which have supported Stirling.
As we all look ahead to 2021, the efforts of Appalachian states, nonprofits and businesses are offering hope for a brighter, healthier future in communities across the Region and U.S.