PRINCETON — Mercer County residents who did not receive the second dose of the Moderna COVID vaccine last Friday because the winter storm delayed shipment are tentatively scheduled to get the shots on Saturday.

Roger Topping, administrator of the Mercer County Health Department, said Monday the winter storm across the country last week delayed the shipment and that impacted local residents who had appointments.

“They did not get the 320 doses last week because of the storm,” he said, adding the doses should arrive this week but have not yet.

“We are supposed to pick them up at the National Guard hub in Greenbrier County at 8 or 9 in the morning,” he said, but as of Monday afternoon they had not yet arrived.

“It may be later this week,” he said. “I am at the mercy of the weather and delivery system. It’s something we have no control over.”

Vaccine clinics are set for Thursday and Friday at the Princeton Rescue Squad, but those appointments have already been filled.

The Saturday clinic is set aside for the 320 residents who need the second Moderna shot and had appointments to get it last Friday.

The second dose should be administered as close to the recommended interval as possible, according to the CDC, 21 days for Pfizer and 28 days for Moderna. However, if it is not feasible to adhere to the recommended interval, the second dose of Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna Covid-19 vaccines may be scheduled for administration up to 6 weeks (42 days) after the first dose.

As of Monday, Mercer County had administered a total of 11,456 doses, or almost 20 percent of the population. That means one out of every five county residents has had at least the first dose.

In Monroe County, almost 30 percent of the population has had at least one dose with a total of 3,919 administered.

McDowell County stood at 23 percent Monday, with 4,055 doses administered.

The Mercer County clinics Thursday and Friday, as well as Saturday, this week will be held from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

McDowell County’s clinic this week is set for Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the National Guard Armory in Welch.

Monroe County will have clinics on Thursday and Friday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Church of God fellowship hall in Union.

Appointments at all of these clinics have already been assigned.

Although progress is being made, Gov. Jim Justice on Monday read information on 15 COVID-related deaths around the state reported over the weekend, a sign of the declining impact of the virus. 

“Our numbers continue to decrease, continue to look better,” he said during his pandemic briefing Monday, but virus deaths are still occurring. “We should never forget these victims.”

One of those deaths was from Mercer County, bringing the total number of deaths to 104.

However, the number of active cases has dropped to 333, a far cry from the peak of 1,700 early last month. Only two new cases were confirmed Monday.

Tazewell County also reported another COVID death, now at 40, as well as Giles County, which has seen 10 deaths.

Because of the improving statistics, Justice last week eased restrictions on restaurants and businesses, allowing 75 percent capacity in restaurants and bars and doubled the number of people allowed in retail stores at the same time.

On Monday, the number of active cases in the state fell below 9,000 for the first time since Nov. 12, Justice said. That number almost hit 30,000 during the January surge.

Hospitalizations also continue to decrease, standing at 294, compared to 818 early last month.

Justice said no red counties are in the state now, and the number of orange and gold counties continues to dwindle.

All area counties are now in the green.

As the numbers improve on that front, vaccinations continue to be pushed as well.

Maj. Gen. (Retired) James Hoyer, director of the state Joint InterAgency Vaccine Task Force, said Monday the focus continues to be age-based, with 65 and over the priority.

“It (the number of vaccinations given) is based on supply,” he said. “As it increases we are prepared and could on a weekly basis do 135,000 vaccines a week.”

Hoyer said doses should increase next month, with all residents who choose to having an opportunity to be fully vaccinated by October, maybe earlier in July, depending on the availability of the federal supply.

 — Contact Charles Boothe at cboothe@bdtonline.com

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