The Ranson Civic Center will soon become a major front in the battle against COVID-19 in the next few weeks as it becomes the site of weekly vaccination clinics.
On Friday, 180 people were vaccinated there, marking the third time in January that the Ranson Civic Center was used for such an event.
Another round of vacinations are on tap for this weekend. Friday’s weather may prove to be a problem, so the vaccinations are planned for Thursday and Saturday this weekend.
Ranson Mayor Duke Pierson offered the state of West Virginia usage of the facility at the beginning of December, even going as far as to clear the schedule for Thursdays and Fridays until the end of March to ensure that the facility would be available for any future vaccination events. This excludes a blood drive to be held later in February. He said for that weekend, the vaccinations would be held on Thursday and Saturday.
Before last week, it wasn’t clear whether the state was going to take him up on his offer.
The state’s plan appeared to focus on regional vaccination centers, but evolved into each county getting their own site.
As a result, Jefferson County health officials were back in touch with Pierson last week inquiring about using the facility.
The Jefferson County Health Department made the decision to use the Ranson Civic Center due to the fact that its offices are not big enough to handle the same volume of vaccinations and at the same time practice social distancing.
As Pierson explained, last week was a dry run and future plans might see 300 or more of those vaccinations performed every Thursday and Friday.
But that comes with a big ‘if.’
“The vaccines have to get here first,” Pierson said. “The state has to get them first.”
West Virginia’s vaccination effort is still in its youth. The state recently started www.vaccinate.wv.gov, its online vaccination portal, where people can sign up for appointments to get the vaccination.
The fact that the vaccinations are done on an appointment only basis is important.
It allows for proper social distancing and is a huge benefit in helping to ensure that the staffing levels are adequate for the number of people showing up.
In order for these vaccination clinics to work effectively, volunteers and paid personnel are going to become important both inside and outside of the Ranson Civic Center.
“We need someone at the entrance of the parking lot to make sure that the people going in have appointments,” Pierson said. “The only way this is going to work is if we keep with an appointment only system like we have right now.”
In the past year since the pandemic began, the Civic Center has been used for COVID-19 testing, blood drives and jury selection.
Moving forward, Pierson pointed out that American Public University System is also chipping in to help.
“American Public University System has been generous in allowing us to use their parking lot as the vaccines become available and we need more spots.”
Pierson also wanted to thank everyone who has volunteered to help with the vaccination efforts at the Ranson Civic Center.
“They’ve been the real key,” Pierson said. “Without the volunteers, we would not be successful at all.”
People looking to volunteer should email their contact information and a bit of their professional background to: jc