Since the COVID-19 Pandemic began, in early 2020, marginalized and vulnerable populations have been especially, adversely, impacted. NASW’s Connect to End COVID-19 initiative was launched to provide equitable training and outreach that promote informed vaccine decision-making on the part of social workers and their clients, particularly among those who are vulnerable, marginalized, and/or vaccine hesitant. NASW-WV recognizes our potential to promote vaccine confidence across the state, encourage reluctant communities to become vaccinated, and provide valuable resources for our West Virginia neighbors. We encourage you to explore our Connect to End COVID-19 resources and find ways to encourage positive community health through vaccine promotion in our communities.
West Virginia Populations
WV was ranked by the Kaiser Family Foundation as the state with the highest portion of adults 18 years and older at higher risk of severe COVID-19 disease.
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Data-Driven Communication about COVID-19 Vaccines in West Virginia
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (30 September 2021). Data-Driven Communication about COVID-19 Vaccines in West Virginia. Retrieved on September 9, 2022 from https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/covid-19/health-departments/features/west-virginia.html
689,770 (49.3%) of adults 18 and over in WV are at high risk.
337,113 (32.3%) of adults under age 65 in WV are at high risk.
352,657 (51.1%) of adults age 65 and over in WV are at high risk.
Source: Kaiser Family Foundation - How Many Adults Are at Risk of Serious Illness If Infected with Coronavirus? Updated Data
Kaiser Family Foundation (April 23, 2020). How Many Adults Are at Risk of Serious Illness If Infected with Coronavirus? Updated Date. Retrieved on September 9, 2022 from https://www.kff.org/coronavirus-covid-19/issue-brief/how-many-adults-are-at-risk-of-serious-illness-if-infected-with-coronavirus/
West Virginia Special Populations: Barriers and Possible Solutions
Persons Experiencing Homelessness
- An estimated 1,342 (0.23%) people are experiencing homelessness in West Virginia.
- Access to vaccine in traditional setting (clinic, pharmacy).
- Vaccine education and drives at shelters, day programs, food service locations, and encampments.
Source: United States Interagency Council on Homelessness West Virginia Homelessness Statistics
United States Interagency Council on Homelessness (January 2020). West Virginia Homelessness Statistics. Retrieved on September 9, 2022 from https://www.usich.gov/homelessness-statistics/wv/
Persons with Disabilities
- 494,529 (32%) adults in West Virginia have a disability.
- Online appointment scheduling
- Care site navigation
- Collaboration with Area Agencies on Aging, Meals on Wheels, etc.
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention - Disability & Health U.S. State Profile Data for West Virginia (Adults 18+ years of age)
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (18 May 2022). Disability and Health U.S. State Profile Data for West Virginia (Adults 18+ years of age). Retrieved on September 9, 2022 from https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/disabilityandhealth/impacts/west-virginia.html
Incarcerated, Detained, and Justice-Involved Individuals
- 23,000 West Virginia Residents are behind bars or under criminal justice supervision.
- State Prisons: 7,100
- Probation: 6,400
- Parole: 3,400
- Local Jails: 3,300
- Federal Prisons: 1,800
- Youth: 570
- Involuntary Commitment: 130
- The COVID-19 death rate in West Virginia prisons is almost twice that of the general population.
- West Virginia is one of 15 prison systems that does not have a policy making hand sanitizer widely available or providing free hygiene products – like soap – to incarcerated people.
- West Virginia is one of 15 prison systems that has not yet vaccinated more than 60% of the incarcerated population.
- Congregate living settings.
- Prioritization by state to provide COVID-19 vaccine to prisons and jails.
- Prioritization by state to provide hand sanitizer/free hygiene products to prisons and jails.
Source: Prison Policy Initiative West Virginia Profile
Prison Policy Initiative (n.d.). West Virginia Profile. Retrieved on September 9, 2022 from https://www.prisonpolicy.org/profiles/WV.html
- Language/literacy challenges
- Limited transportation
- Fear of immigration related consequences
- Language specific outreach
- Walk-in testing sites
Source: American Immigration Council Immigrants in West Virginia
American Immigration Council (6 August 2020). Immigrants in West Virginia. Retrieved on September 9, 2022 from https://www.americanimmigrationcouncil.org/research/immigrants-west-virginia#:~:text=Two%20percent%20of%20West%20Virginia,2%20percent%20of%20the%20population.
- Distrust of medical system
- Trusted champion
- Partnering with YMCA, barbershops, salons, local non-profits, etc.
- Mixed media messaging
Source: United States Census Bureau West Virginia
United States Census Bureau (1 July 2021). West Virginia. Retrieved on September 9, 2022 from https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/WV