MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Todd Karpinski, WVU Medicine’s Chief Pharmacy Officer, is no stranger to hard work.
Karpinski has been helping the hospital system vaccinate thousands of people through his role as the head of the vaccine supply chain at WVU Medicine. But if you asked him if he’s a hero, he’ll say:
Nah, definitely not, just one team member part of the team members here at WVU Medicine that’s been a part of this entire vaccination effort and even extending beyond that to the beginning of COVID. We’re trying to now get to that light at the end of the tunnel and get as many vaccines in arms that we can, so it’s definitely been a team effort here.Todd Karpinski – Chief Pharmacy Officer, WVU Medicine
This is a man so focused on the task at hand; he cannot stop to rest. Instead, he is looking forward in hopes that the state can increase its vaccine allotment up to 100,000-200,000 doses each week.
He said the reasoning is that the state needs to ramp up inoculations to reach herd immunity. Plus, he added that the public’s demand right now is very high, so West Virginia needs to take advantage.
In order to demonstrate how high the demand is currently, he offered an example from Thursday, Jan. 28, when WVU Medicine opened up 1,000 slots for Friday.
“Within 90 minutes, those 1,000 spots were full, and we only targeted those patients over the age of 65 that we had on a list,” he said. “So if we had 10,000 doses of vaccine doses available for tomorrow, it would easily fill up, so demand still remains really, really high. I think as more of our community members get vaccinated and share their stories with colleagues that are maybe on the fence, I think that demand is going to continue to be sustained if not grow.”
In recognition of the high demand and urgency to reach herd immunity, WVU Medicine has teamed up with Mon Health, the Monongalia Co. Health Department and Clay-Battelle Health Center to create a vaccine “superhub” at an old Sears store in the Morgantown Mall.
The aim is to vaccinate thousands of people every day.
“We’re 100 percent excited to get the support of our local health department,” Karpinski said. “They do great work with public health. We’re partnering with our folks at Mon and really just showing that there is no competition in taking care of patients. And by adding and combining our knowledge, our resources, our staff together really allows us to get up to that 8,000 doses a day and do what we can to do to get as many vaccines into arms as we can.”
Even though, as the chief pharmacy officer of WVU Medicine, Karpinski will be playing a big role at the superhub, he still doesn’t see himself as a hero or anything special.
“I think I’m just one spoke in this wheel that’s trying to do much as we can to get our citizens of West Virginia protected from the virus, hopefully, put an end to this pandemic sooner than later,” he said. “And it’s just — we all play a role, we all play a part. We certainly couldn’t do it without the efforts of many.”
Karpinski said the public also plays a role in combating COVID. That is why it is key that people sign up to get vaccinated and actually show up to their appointments.
Once you have received the vaccine, Karpinski said, precaution is still necessary.
The public needs to wear masks still and practice social distancing until the state fully reaches herd immunity. Only then, he said, can we relax and put these COVID safety practices behind us.
He may not agree, but for his continuing work to protect the community against COVID-19, Todd Karpinski is a healthcare hero.