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The Journey of a Thousand Vaccinations Starts with One Shot

Participating in the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccinations has truly been the most rewording experience of my career. It all began the weekend of December 12th, 2020 when I participated in multiple trainings and learned about the rollout of the vaccine in West Virginia. The first batch of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccinations was delivered to my practice site, Waterfront Family Pharmacy in Morgantown, WV by the National Guard on Tuesday, December 15th. Within two hours of the vaccine arriving on site, we were set up at Sundale Nursing Home and ready to administer the first doses to the residents and staff at the facility. I had the distinct honor of vaccinating the first patient at the facility who was also the first patient diagnosed with COVID-19 in a nursing home in West Virginia in March 2020. The National Guard filmed the momentous occasion, which over the course of the week ended up on media outlets nationwide. Over the course of the next month, my team and I continued to administer COVID-19 vaccinations at additional nursing homes and eventually to other healthcare providers and educators.

West Virginia has gained a lot of media attention due to the successful rollout of the COVID-19 vaccinations. This has surprised many as West Virginia is usually at the top of the list for healthcare disparities. The key to our success…having a pharmacist, Dr. Krista Capehart, advocating for the inclusion of all pharmacies in the statewide vaccine distribution and administration plans. By having all pharmacies being included in the distribution plan, we were able to ensure that patients even those in the most rural parts of our state were able to be vaccinated in a safe and efficient manner. We had pharmacies, including one of our Flip the Pharmacy participants who had not previously administered immunizations at their site, sign up to participate in the COVID-19 vaccination program and they have played a crucial role in vaccination administration especially in the rural areas of our state.

I have never felt more gratified in the work I have done and it has been fantastic seeing the profession of pharmacy come together to provide COVID-19 vaccinations. From the students who have taken days off from their paid jobs and traveled hours to volunteer at vaccination clinics, to the business owners who have put in many extra hours, to the pharmacists who have completed immunization trainings just to help with this effort, the dedication of all of you to the successful rollout of COVID-19 vaccinations has not gone unnoticed. It is such an amazing time to be a community pharmacist. From the bottom of my heart, thank you for all that you are doing and let’s continue to all do our part to help bring an end to this pandemic through vaccination efforts!

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