As science advances alongside the constantly changing virus that causes COVID-19, tools and guidelines also change, and people in West Virginia and across the nation have been challenged to stay up-to-date as vaccination guidance has evolved—a task sometimes easier said than done.
To help alleviate uncertainty related to the COVID-19 vaccination schedule, a team of researchers at West Virginia University developed a new online application. The tool simplifies the process of figuring out when someone needs a COVID-19 shot to keep up with protection against the virus.
Unveiled by Gov. Jim Justice on behalf of his Joint Interagency Task Force on COVID-19 along with the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources, the West Virginia COVID-19 Vaccination Due Date Calculator is a free, online tool designed to help users keep track of the specific date they become due for a COVID-19 shot, whether it’s their first or a booster.
Individuals can access the calculator by scrolling down at vaccinate.wv.gov. West Virginians can also contact the West Virginia COVID-19 Hotline by calling 1-800-887-4304 for help using the calculator by phone.
“Ongoing conversations with West Virginians through surveys, focus groups and interviews have shown us that people are increasingly confused about COVID-19 vaccine eligibility,” explained Julia Daisy Fraustino, founding director of the Reed College of Media Public Interest Communication Research Lab and assistant professor of strategic communication.
“We want to make it as easy as we can for West Virginians to know when they are due for a shot and to act on that information by scheduling an appointment or setting a personal reminder from within the application,” said Fraustino, who also helps lead the Task Force’s Joint Information Center.
The tool works for anyone at any age or stage of COVID-19 vaccination, including for those who are moderately to severely immunocompromised.
“Vaccination is our strongest protection to reduce severe disease, hospitalization or worse from COVID-19,” said Dr. Lisa Costello, assistant professor of pediatrics in the School of Medicine and medical lead for the Task Force’s Joint Information Center. “As immunity from the primary series of COVID-19 shots starts to fade, getting boosted when due helps people rebuild protection. This is especially important as folks get out into the community to take part in more of the things they enjoy doing.”
The application was developed in the Media Innovation Center Public Interest Communication Research Lab through a partnership with the Joint Interagency Task Force and the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources Bureau for Public Health. Along with Fraustino and Costello, Joint Information Center team members working on the calculator include Eberly College of Arts and Sciences Assistant Professor Daniel Totzkay, School of Pharmacy Clinical Associate Professor Krista Capehart, and The Center for Rural Health Development Senior Program Director Elaine Darling, who is a graduate of the School of Public Health. Students Steve Lough in the Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources and Jenna Stewart in the Reed College of Media are the Lab’s lead programmer and lead research assistant, respectively, on the calculator effort.
For the calculator’s next phase, the team is developing additional content for healthcare workers while seeking feedback to respond to community needs.
“Community organizations across the state can embed the calculator on their own websites to make it even easier for West Virginians to access and use the tool,” Fraustino said. “Ultimately our goal is to help every West Virginian make informed health decisions for themselves, their families and our communities.”
MEDIA CONTACT: Jessica Wilmoth
WVU Health Sciences