CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice said Wednesday the state has lowered the age limit for COVID-19 vaccinations to all residents 50 and older.
Justice said at a news conference that education workers who are at least age 40 can now receive the vaccine. The previous limit for teachers had been those 50 and older.
In addition, Justice said anyone over age 16 with certain medical conditions may receive the vaccine.
West Virginia expects to receive a surge in coronavirus vaccine doses this week after a one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine gained emergency use authorization. On top of the 15,500 doses from Johnson & Johnson, the state’s allocation of vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna will mean the state receives nearly 93,000 total doses this week.
“Remember, the last thing we want in West Virginia is to have a bunch of vaccines just sitting on the shelf,” Justice said. “So we’re moving as quickly as we possibly can, West Virginia.”
Residents ages 16 and older will receive the vaccine if they have pre-existing medical conditions, including pregnancy, Down syndrome, intellectual and developmental disabilities, an organ or bone marrow transplant, or obesity.
Residents first need to register on a state website at vaccinate.wv.gov in order to receive the vaccine. Health officials said anyone age 65 or older who is still waiting to receive the vaccine should call a hotline listed on the website to schedule their appointment.
About 17% of the state’s 1.78 million residents have been partially vaccinated, according to state data, while 11.2% are fully vaccinated.
Active cases of the virus in the state have been falling rapidly since peaking at 29,257 on Jan. 10, a month after the state started administering virus vaccines. The Department of Health and Human Resources said there were 6,451 active COVID-19 cases statewide Tuesday, the lowest since Nov. 6.
There have been at least 2,309 virus-related deaths statewide. The 39 reported deaths last week were the first time weekly deaths had fallen below 40 since late October.
Follow AP’s pandemic coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic, https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-vaccine and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak.