MORGANTOWN — Charlene Marshall has never been one to shy away from going first.
Marshall, who served as the mayor of Morgantown from 1991-’98, was the first Black female mayor in West Virginia history before going on to spend 14 years in the West Virginia House of Delegates.
So it wasn’t a surprise to see her at the West Virginia National Guard Readiness Center on Monday with her sleeve rolled up, ready to receive one of the county’s 100 doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine allocated for members of 80-plus population.
“I was looking forward to getting this,” Marshall said moments after receiving the shot. “As a matter of fact, I’ve been calling other people and encouraging them to get the vaccine. I just think it’s so very important.”
Monongalia County Health Officer Lee Smith said the state announced the 100-dose allotment last Wednesday, prompting the county to set up a call line at 304-598-5196.
“We opened the line at noon. It took 45 minutes and we had all 100 sports filled,” he said, noting there were another 150 names that didn’t make the initial cut.
“We’ve decided to leave that line open so people can call and get on a roster. We’ll prioritize that by date of birth, medical conditions and such,” he said.
The somewhat impromptu announcement from the state that vaccination of the general public would begin — albeit initially focused on older and more vulnerable citizens — came as efforts are still under way to vaccinate the health care professionals and first responders spelled out in the state’s initial phased plan.
“Oh no, Phase I is still going. We’re going to get a bunch of doses this week and we still have some stragglers from EMS, fire, law enforcement and health care workers that didn’t get picked up. So all that’s going on still,” Smith said. “This is multitasking.”
This is week four of the vaccination process.
Smith said the 163 people who received the first round of Pfizer vaccines in week one will receive their booster shot this week. Another 172 doses were administered in week two, followed by 180 doses last week.
National averages indicate 60% of the population will get vaccinated, meaning about 63,000 of Monongalia County’s 105,612 residents.
Smith said he believes that by running two vaccination sites on fairly tight schedules, those numbers can be achieved by June or so as long as the doses are available.
Marshall said she would encourage everyone to get vaccinated as soon as possible.
“When I hear people say they’re going to wait, I don’t understand that. Wait for what,” the 87-year-old said. “I’m looking forward to when the time is up and I can get the second one. I’ll just feel more comfortable. I know nobody wants to think about getting sick, but I don’t want my family to be taking care of me. I wanted to do this for myself.”
Even if it hurts?
“Oh no, it’s wasn’t bad at all,” Marshall said. “I didn’t even feel a sting.”