The United States government, through its Embassy in Lima and the West Virginia Joint Interagency Task Force for COVID-19 Vaccines (WV Task Force), joined the Presidency of the Council of Ministers (PCM, in Spanish) and Peru’s Ministry of Health in organizing a virtual discussion panel on the successful vaccination experience in the state of West Virginia, to strengthen vaccination efforts against COVID-19 and share best practices amid the pandemic health emergency.
U.S. Embassy Chargé d’Affaires Denison Offutt, PCM President Violeta Bermúdez, Peruvian Minister of Health Oscar Ugarte, and Brigadier General William E. Crane, adjutant general of the West Virginia National Guard, attended the event and discussed vaccination logistics, vaccine refrigeration, vaccine delivery, and record-keeping systems.
In their presentations, specialists from the U.S. and Peruvian governments addressed issues concerning the vaccination program in both West Virginia and Peru, as well as government roles and good vaccination practices during the COVID-19 pandemic. West Virginia has been one of the most successful U.S. states in vaccinating its residents due to its sound organizational and logistics decisions, and its objective approach to vaccination.
West Virginia’s vaccination rate is among the highest in the world. More than 15 percent of the state’s population has received one dose of vaccine, while more than 9 percent has received the two doses, ranking West Virginia third in the world in vaccination, according to the percentage of its population. It all started in late December 2020, when Governor Jim Justice announced that West Virginia residents over the age of 80 would be vaccinated at their county’s health facilities. Older people immediately started lining up to get the vaccine. After listening to residents, focusing on their needs, including the community in the vaccination process, and providing the necessary resources for vaccines to be administered correctly, the WV Task Force decided to develop a flexible vaccination plan that will run until October 2021 in hospitals, schools, community centers, and pharmacies; establish vaccine distribution centers; and create a telephone hotline to give information and register people for vaccination, since 30 percent of residents do not have internet access and people over 70 are not generally computer savvy.
Brig. Gen. Crane said during the discussion: “Since March 2020, the dedicated women and men of the West Virginia National Guard have been on the front lines of the pandemic, providing support to the state’s residents, and we have proven ourselves to be world leaders in vaccinations against COVID-19. We understand the vital need to share best practices to improve vaccine distribution and protect the most vulnerable from this deadly illness. We are thankful for this important dialogue with our Peruvian partners through the panel discussion about vaccine distribution to fight COVID-19.”