CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) – Testing… and now vaccinating.

The two key elements health officials say will stop the spread of COVID-19.

“At the beginning of the pandemic, the best tool we had was to test,” said Dr. Sherri Young, health officer at the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department. “That’s still a very valuable tool, but our next step forward is really the vaccination process because that provides 2 doses, 95% protection against COVID. So that’s our next best tool as far as stopping the spread.”

So now that the primary focus has transitioned from testing to vaccinating, how are the county… and state… balancing its resources to tackle both elements?

“We’re really treating this like a military operation, a very complex one,” said Dr. Clay Marsh, WV COVID-19 Czar. “So we’ve really brought all sorts of different groups together.”

Different entities, working together… especially over the next few weeks.

“January 21st {is predicted to} be the worst day we’ll see in the COVID pandemic,” said Dr. Clay Marsh.

There’s an anticipated spike in cases due to the holiday season; something that can seem pretty scary right now.

“We’re going to see a spike at a time when our hospitals are more full than they’ve been, with people who are sick with COVID, then we’ve seen in the whole entirety of the pandemic,” said Marsh.

Thankfully, vaccinations are constantly being delivered here.

650 came to Kanawha County today.

“Unfortunately, all of the appointments are taken at this point,” said Young. “We filled 500 spots within an hour and a half today. So the good news is the vaccine is on its way, people are interested in getting the vaccine, the only hold up is getting it here fast enough.”

Ten months into fighting this pandemic, and it finally seems like there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

“As people get more comfortable with it too, we look forward to getting it to even more of our law enforcement, our front line responders, and the people that have been fighting this pandemic for so long,” said Young.

“It’s important that we stay together,” said Marsh. “And the more we can stay together as a state, the better we’re all going to do. So we’re just asking people to be patient if you haven’t been contacted yet.”

The 650 vaccinations are going to our population of ‘80 and older’ and will be administered at the Charleston Coliseum and Convention Center this Friday.