MORGANTOWN — Amazing how much enthusiasm an adhesive bandage can generate.
That’s why that grin kept breaking out under Sam Watson’s facemask, as he kept his eyes fixed to one stuck to his arm.
“One down,” the Suncrest Middle School eighth-grader said.
And, one to go.
He had to raise his voice to be heard. It was the first day of the COVID vaccination clinic for middle school youngsters in Mon, and the happy talk reverberated off the walls of the gym.
“I’ll be able to do a lot more things over the summer,” the student said.
The state Department of Education wants to keep that momentum going, so Sam and his classmates can do even more in the fall.
In the spirit of “Do it for Babydog,” the department is launching its own vaccine lottery.
The goal of “I Got Vaxxed” is to get students, teachers and staffers yet to be inoculated to roll up their sleeves for the shot.
Organizers will award $5,000 apiece to an elementary school, middle and high school across West Virginia with the highest percentage of eligible persons vaccinated.
Vaccines mean continuity and routine, State Schools Superintendent Clayton Burch said.
“We know that students and staff lost so much more than instructional days during the pandemic,” the superintendent said.
“Children need the benefits of a consistent school year to regain some of those lost experiences.”
Donna Talerico, the deputy superintendent of Mon’s school district, brought that down to the level of the main hallway.
Inoculations mean heard immunity, she said.
“That way we get back to full classes and prom and sports,” she said. “All the things that are ‘normal.’ ”
During a press briefing Friday, Gov. Jim Justice cautioned all West Virginians — especially ones yet to roll up their sleeves — to be wary of the Delta variant strain of COVID-19.
At the time of his talk, the state had notched 19 Delta cases.
Nineteen, he said, could mean 19 more — and 19 more after that.
“This is coming to West Virginia,” he said of the strain.
“And you absolutely need to get vaccinated.”
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