CHARLESTON — With the percentage of fully vaccinated West Virginians hospitalized for COVID-19 slowly creeping higher, Gov. Jim Justice took time during his briefing Monday to encourage all residents who qualify for a booster shot to get a booster shot, according to a news release from his office.
“In our hospitals, we are approaching 20% that are vaccinated,” Gov. Justice said. “Now it’s only changed a little teeny bit so far. But what does it tell us? It tells us we really need to get our booster shots because the effectiveness is wearing down.”
On Friday last week, Gov. Justice announced that pandemic response teams were already on the move getting booster shots to at-risk residents following their long-awaited federal approval.
West Virginians who received specifically the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine may qualify for the booster shot if it has been at least six months since their second dose.
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.
On underlying medical conditions: State Coronavirus Czar Dr. Clay Marsh noted last week that the list of underlying medical conditions that would qualify an individual to receive the booster shot is extremely broad and includes anybody who is overweight, has high blood pressure, is a current or former smoker, has heart or lung conditions, is diabetic, is pregnant, has liver or kidney disease, has received a transplant, has cancer, has substance use disorder, has HIV, has had a stroke or other brain disorder, has dementia or other neurologic disease, has Down Syndrome, has sickle cell anemia, and more.
“If you’re 18 or above, you will qualify in some way,” Gov. Justice said Monday. “I would really highly encourage you to run to the fire again and get that booster shot.
“We jumped out of the gate and we led the nation with our early vaccine distribution,” Gov. Justice continued. “Let’s lead the nation in the rollout of our booster shots as well.”
If you are eligible for the booster shot, you can go to any location offering COVID-19 vaccines with your vaccination card to receive the booster. If your card has been lost, you can request a new one from the DHHR.
Gov. Justice went on to report that West Virginia has distributed over 9,400 additional doses of the COVID-19 vaccines since his previous briefing last week.
“That’s pretty good. It’s a whole heck of a lot better than when we were doing 3,400 or 4,200 in a weekend,” Gov. Justice said.
Additionally, following a correction in the vaccination data being tracked by the CDC, West Virginia has once again crossed the threshold of one million vaccinations statewide.
“More people have stepped up to get vaccinated,” Gov. Justice added. “All the stuff that we’re doing is working. But we always can do even better.”
Also on Monday, Gov. Justice reported that the state’s total number of active cases has continued to drop. However, as expected, the number of West Virginians in the hospital with severe cases continues to hold near record levels for now.
As of Monday’s briefing, there were 14,534 active cases, down more than 1,600 cases since the Governor’s previous briefing Friday last week.
The active case count was down by 15,210 cases since peaking just 10 days ago, dropping 51.1% in a week-and-a-half.
“The numbers are reflective of the fact that we are going through the peak and it looks like we’re starting to turn down,” Gov. Justice said. “And that’s great news.”
Meanwhile, the state saw a small decrease in the number of COVID-related hospitalizations, dropping to 978 after reaching a new peak of 1,012 on Friday.
The number of patients in ICUs has once again tied the all-time peak of 291. However, the number of patients on ventilators has dropped slightly to 193 after peaking at 195 on Saturday.
“What all of this tells us is that we’re in a hold pattern right at the peak,” Gov. Justice said. “But it looks like that hold pattern could soon start flowing our way.”
State health experts say that, with the overall case count dropping, the number of severe cases should begin declining as well in the weeks ahead.
As of Monday’s briefing, the statewide death toll from COVID-19 had reached 3,568, with 45 more deaths being reported since the Governor’s previous briefing on Friday last week.
The County Alert System map now shows that 50 of the state’s 55 counties are in either the highest-risk Red category or one step below in the Orange category. However, the map now features two counties in the Green category. Mason County remains “red” on the map.
Information provided by the office of Gov. Jim Justice.