Governor announces ‘immediate availability’ of vaccine boosters


Staff Report



CHARLESTON — During his briefing on Friday, Gov. Jim Justice announced that pandemic response teams are on the move right now, getting booster shots of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine in the arms of at-risk West Virginians.

“We’re in nursing homes and assisted living facilities giving out shots right now all across the state,” Gov. Justice said. “We’ve always been at the forefront of vaccination efforts since they first became available and we’ve been ready for weeks to start giving out these boosters.”

According to a news release from the governor’s office, “After months of debate on the federal level, the CDC has authorized Pfizer booster shots for certain populations and also recommended a booster dose for those in high risk occupational and institutional settings.”

“We pleaded with the CDC, we pleaded with the Biden Administration over and over for weeks and weeks, saying we’ve got to be giving out these boosters,” Gov. Justice said. “Thank goodness somebody is finally coming to their senses and saying this has to be done.”

The CDC recommends that:

People 65 years and older and residents in long-term care settings should receive a booster shot of Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at least six months after their second dose of Pfizer.

People aged 50–64 years with underlying medical conditions should receive a booster shot of Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at least six months after their second dose of Pfizer.

People aged 18–49 years with underlying medical conditions may receive a booster shot of Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at least six months after their second Pfizer dose, based on their individual benefits and risks.

People aged 18-64 years who are at increased risk for COVID-19 exposure and transmission because of occupational or institutional setting may receive a booster shot of Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at least six months after their second Pfizer dose, based on their individual benefits and risks.

“For the most part, if you got the Pfizer vaccine, you’re 18 or older, and you’re outside that six-month window, in just about any situation where you feel compromised, you can now go get your booster shot,” Gov. Justice said.

“The list of indications for all West Virginians who are six months out from their second dose of Pfizer is fairly broad, and they include a number of chronic diseases like cancer, kidney disease, a variety of lung diseases, dementia or other neurologic disease, diabetes – type 1 or type 2 – Down Syndrome, heart conditions, HIV infections, liver disease, being overweight…anybody who’s pregnant, sickle cell anemia, anybody who’s a current or former smoker, anybody who’s received a transplant, anybody who’s had a stroke or other brain disorders, anybody that has high blood pressure, or anybody that has substance use disorder,” State Coronavirus Czar Dr. Clay Marsh said. “We want to really encourage people that are eligible to please go to your pharmacy, to your primary care office, to your provider, or to your local health department and please get the booster.”

“We have plenty of doses, based on the management of our inventory,” Joint Interagency Task Force Director Jim Hoyer said. “There are booster shots being given in nursing homes now, as we are on this press conference. The boosters are also available at pharmacies, community clinics, hospitals, and some primary care providers who have been providing shots to their patients in their offices also have doses available. If you have an issue with finding a location, please contact the DHHR and they can help facilitate you getting to a location that has the Pfizer booster doses available.”

The authorization is specifically for individuals who have previously received two doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine.

The CDC will also evaluate recommendations for people who got the Moderna or Johnson & Johnson vaccines in the coming weeks.

Gov. Justice also reported that, after six straight days of case numbers declining rapidly, Friday saw a slight uptick in the active case count.

There are now 16,223 active cases of COVID-19 across West Virginia; up 943 cases from the Governor’s previous briefing on Wednesday. However, the total case count is still 45.5% lower than it was when it peaked at 29,744 exactly one week ago.

West Virginia saw new all-time record highs Friday for total hospitalizations (1,008) and the number of patients on ventilators (187). Meanwhile, the number of patients in ICUs (289) is just below the all-time record.

The statewide death toll from COVID-19 has reached 3,523, with 56 more deaths being reported since Wednesday.

Meanwhile, the County Alert System map now shows that 50 of the state’s 55 counties are still in either the highest-risk Red category or one step below in the Orange category.

Information provided by the office of Gov. Jim Justice.

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Staff Report