As Kanawha-Charleston Health Department officials rush to vaccinate schoolchildren before the start of classes, they're facing two challenges they've never dealt with before.
Kanawha County schools resume classes in just four days. The Aug. 9 start date is the earliest in county history and has caused a scramble to get all students inoculated in time.
And Kanawha-Charleston also has been covering all clinical services for the Putnam County Health Department, which folded under the weight of a financial crisis in June.
By state law, students must have a host of vaccinations before they can attend classes. As such, Kanawha-Charleston will be open to walk-ins through much of the week.
This year, though, the decision of Putnam County's Board of Health to lay off its entire staff has put extra pressure on Kanawha-Charleston. Putnam County residents are currently receiving clinical services through Kanawha-Charleston.
"That could overwhelm Kanawha," said Brenda Isaac, head nurse for Kanawha County Schools. "But the health department is going to try to set something up for those people so it's not a problem."
Details on that plan haven't been released yet. Vickie Klennert, Kanawha-Charleston's clinical division supervisor, said administrators would release those details in coming weeks.
Putnam County students don't return to school until Aug. 22 - nearly two full weeks later than Kanawha. That should buy health department officials time as they try to handle the workload from Putnam County.
No vaccine shortages are anticipated, Klennert said.