Hundreds of COVID-19 vaccines administered during Mercer County distribution

PRINCETON, WV (WOAY) – The Mercer County Health Department held another community vaccination event, this time at the Princeton Church of God.

This distribution is similar to other vaccine drives they’ve done in which individuals drive up, receive their shot and then wait in a separate area under supervision.

According to the Health Department’s Interim Administrator Brenda Donithan, the event was only made possible due to the vast network of volunteers that came out to help. 

“I have around maybe 60 volunteers here today. Nursing students from Bluefield State College, Princeton Rescue Squad, 911, a lot of people who decided to come help their community,” Donithan said.

Also on-site was the Mercer County Sheriff’s Department, who helped direct traffic flow.

Earlier in the month, the health department held a similar vaccine drive that was first-come, first-served. That event led to hundreds of people waiting in their cars for hours, with many being turned away as doses ran out.

The biggest change with this drive and future ones is that they are by appointment only.

Mercer County Health Officer Steven Stefancic says that pre-registering solves many potential issues and gets people in and out much faster.

“We pre-register individuals so we can get all their information in the computer and then individually call them and let them know what time to arrive to get their vaccine. It decreases traffic congestion, decreases wait time. And from start to finish, it’s usually within an hour we can get people home,” Stefancic said.

Pre-registering all participants puts a large strain on the health department staff. Donithan claimed their phones were ringing non-stop this week with residents trying to get registered.

They had 650 doses this time around, many more than previous vaccine drives, but they’re still waiting on more to come down from the state government. 

Mercer County residents aged 65 and up are encouraged to go online or call the health department to join the waitlist for future distributions.