KANAWHA COUNTY, WV (WOWK) — Despite COVID-19 case numbers trending down, the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department says COVID-19 remains our number one public health crisis and that residents should get vaccinated.

“Our vaccination efforts are working, but we still have a public health crisis on our hands with COVID-19,” said Dr. Sherri Young, health officer and executive director of the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department. “With variants of the virus becoming more predominant in our community, it’s more important than ever to get a COVID-19 vaccine and to continue social distancing, wearing a mask in public and frequently washing your hands.”

Dr. Young is planning to vaccinate more than 7,500 students within the next few days because of the expected approval of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for students between the ages of 12 to 15. Public vaccination events will be coordinated for students once the vaccine is available.

Officials say getting this age group vaccinated will help stop the spread of the virus in schools and sports.

“It’s essential that parents make the call to get their children vaccinated when the time comes, and they’re able to do that,” Dr. Young said.

Nearly 83,000 Kanawha County residents have had at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, and more than 67,000 have been fully vaccinated against the virus.

The health department has several clinics planned this week. COVID-19 vaccines are also available by appointment at KCHD by calling 304-348-8080.