HPP Supports West Virginia in Leading the Nation in COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Through “Operation Save Our Wisdom”
As a part of West Virginia’s (WV) efforts to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic, the state launched its “Operation Save Our Wisdom” vaccination plan. “Operation Save Our Wisdom" is a statewide initiative, implemented by Governor Jim Justice and West Virginia Pandemic Leadership and carried out by multiple state and local partners/organizations using a community approach to vaccinate its older adult population.
As of late February 2021, individuals who were offered the COVID-19 vaccine included older adults over 65 years of age, health care workers, first responders, and teachers over 50 years of age. The state uses the phased vaccine rollout approach recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
WV used the time between the emergency use authorization announcement and the arrival of the first doses to efficiently plan for the COVID-19 vaccine rollout. By taking proactive measures in collaboration with state and local partners, WV successfully navigated the pandemic response and led the nation in vaccine distribution. WV conducted the following activities:
- Established and coordinated a strong and aggressive free COVID-19 testing program throughout the state;
- Established a Joint Inter Agency Task Force (JIATF) to coordinate vaccination efforts with representation from all essential stakeholders;
- Coordinated and facilitated weekly, virtual planning meetings with state and local partners;
- Launched a vaccination website (www.vaccinate.wv.gov) to share vaccine-related information, including how to pre-register for a vaccine;
- Was the first state to establish a COVID-19 Vaccine Registration System using Everbridge to offer a streamlined, consistent registration experience throughout the state;
- Utilized the Vaccination Administration Management System (VAMS) for medical partners;
- Recruited volunteers for vaccination and testing sites;
- Partnered with the WV Hospital Association to enhance hospital data collection and reporting;
- Partnered with locally owned pharmacies across WV;
- Established vaccine storage and distribution hubs, which are located strategically throughout the state;
- Purchased syringes to obtain an additional dose from some vials of vaccine, allowing health care facilities to fully utilize all vaccine provided; and
- Established seven regional personal protective equipment (PPE) cache storage and distribution sites.
Key “Operation Save Our Wisdom” Partners
WV Health Care Coalitions (HCCs) and the following four agencies support “Operation Save Our Wisdom”
in various ways and receive support from the ASPR HPP cooperative agreement and COVID-19 supplemental
funding through sub-recipient agreements with the West Virginia Center for Threat Preparedness:
WV Hospital Association - Healthcare Education Foundation of West Virginia is involved in the state's COVID-19 Vaccination Task Force.
WV Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster is active in recruiting volunteers to support vaccination clinics.
WV Primary Care Association is active in the state's Joint Inter Agency Task Force (JIATF), and their federally qualified health centers are strong partners in community vaccine clinics.
WV Poison Center is operating a COVID-19 information line.
In addition, early in the COVID-19 response, the WV Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHR) launched a medical information hotline, funded through the ASPR HPP cooperative agreement and HPP COVID-19 supplemental funding, to address the public’s and medical providers’ questions/concerns regarding COVID-19. In support of “Operation Save Our Wisdom,” this information line has received calls on topics including vaccine registration, vaccination locations, and adverse reactions related to COVID-19 vaccination, as well as general COVID-19 inquiries. The state also recently launched a COVID-19 Vaccine Info Line to help West Virginians get information on the distribution process and availability of COVID-19 vaccines.
Because about 54% of WV’s pharmacies are not chain affiliated, WV worked with the State Pharmacy Board and the WV Health Care Association to modify the state vaccination approach so that it focuses on vaccinating long-term care staff and residents. Recently, WV opted into the Federal Pharmacy Program, which involves a partnership with Walgreens and Medicine Shoppe locations across the state.
These activities have helped WV with success in its “Operation Save Our Wisdom" program and WV’s ability to effectively and efficiently navigate the pandemic response to keep its residents safe and healthy. As a result, WV has been among the top states in the nation with the highest rate of vaccine administration. The state’s driving principles for COVID-19 vaccinations are to build community immunity in WV by protecting our most vulnerable, reducing deaths, reducing hospitalizations, and maintaining access to critical services such as acute care.
The WV COVID-19 Information Line has operators available 24/7, toll-free at 1-800-887-4304 to provide accurate information about COVID-19, the risk to the public, and the state’s response. The WV COVID-19 Vaccine Line (1-833-734-0965) operates Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
This story was developed by Carolyn Elswick, WV Center for Threat Preparedness.