Governor focuses on federal approval of extra vaccine dose

Staff Report

CHARLESTON — During Monday’s briefing, Gov. Jim Justice announced he has directed State pandemic response officials to continue their push to expedite approval from the federal government to allow West Virginia to begin administering an extra dose of the COVID-19 vaccines to the state’s most vulnerable citizens as soon as possible.

“My people are working to try to find a way that we in West Virginia can move right now,” Gov. Justice said.

According to a news release from the governor’s office, the Governor reported that, over the past eight weeks, West Virginia has seen a 26% increase in breakthrough cases, a 21% increase in breakthrough cases requiring hospitalization, and a 25% increase in breakthrough cases causing death.

“West Virginians in long-term care facilities and healthcare settings were some of the first people in the nation to be vaccinated,” Gov. Justice said. “We led the nation in getting out our vaccines, did we not? Now, the CDC and the federal government says we need to wait until September 20th for our people to start getting their extra shots.

“There are so many indicators that say we need to move right now,” Gov. Justice continued. “But right now we can’t get past the legalities of Washington to be able to move right this second.

“We are going to continue to work it, night and day, to try to find a way. We’ve got to get through more legalities to be able to pull the trigger. But, when we’re ready to go – if you’re 60 and older – please be ready to go, because we’ll be ready.”

Gov. Justice also reported Monday that there are now 470 confirmed cases of the COVID-19 Delta variant statewide.

As of Monday, the County Alert System map now shows zero Green counties, with 47 of the state’s 55 counties in either the Orange or Red categories.

Hospitalizations continue to increase as well, with 447 people currently hospitalized. Of that total, 143 patients are in the ICU.

“As I’ve urged all of our people over and over, please go get vaccinated,” Gov. Justice said. “Even if you’ve had this before, as far as your natural immunity, it’s not enough, it does not protect you nearly like the vaccines do.”

In a study of hundreds of Kentucky residents who recovered from COVID-19, the CDC found those who were unvaccinated were 2.34 times more likely to be reinfected.

The study shows that the vaccine provides additional protection and indicates COVID-19 vaccines offer better protection than natural immunity alone, according to the CDC.

“We gave out 6,500 doses of the vaccine since last Friday,” Gov. Justice said. “That’s really good, but we need to do more.”

Also on Monday, the U.S. FDA officially gave its full stamp of approval to the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine for the prevention of COVID-19 disease in individuals 16 years of age and older. The vaccine also continues to be available under emergency use authorization (EUA), including for individuals 12 through 15 years of age and for the administration of a third dose in certain immunocompromised individuals.

All West Virginians interested in being vaccinated are encouraged to visit or call the West Virginia Vaccine Info Line: 1-833-734-0965. The info line is open Monday-Friday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Also on Monday, Gov. Justice reported that there are now 10 active outbreaks associated with churches throughout West Virginia. The churches are located in Barbour, Cabell, Doddridge, Fayette, Kanawha, Mason, Putnam, Raleigh, Taylor, and Wayne counties.

Additionally, there are 24 active outbreaks in long-term care facilities across the state.

Meanwhile, there are 40 active inmate cases and 33 active staff cases across the West Virginia Division of Corrections and Rehabilitation system.

Information provided by the office of Gov. Jim Justice.

Staff Report