Governor urges booster shots for eligible residents

Staff Report

CHARLESTON — During Tuesday’s briefing, Gov. Jim Justice yet again encouraged all West Virginians to determine if they qualify for a booster dose and then get one if they are eligible, according to a news release from the governor’s office.

“The number of folks that are in the hospital today are 76% unvaccinated,” Gov. Justice said. “What does that tell us? It tells us that 24% of the people who are hospitalized are fully vaccinated, but they may not have their booster shot.

“It tells us, as mathematically clear as it can possibly tell us, that if you are eligible to get your booster shot and you don’t get it, you’re making a real mistake,” Gov. Justice continued. “You need your booster shot.”

There are now booster recommendations for all three available COVID-19 vaccines in the United States.

Per CDC recommendations, individuals who received either the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine are eligible for a booster shot if it has been at least six months since they completed their initial series of shots and they fall into at least one of the following groups:

65 years and older;

Age 18+ who live in long-term care settings;

Age 18+ who have *underlying medical conditions;

Age 18+ who work or live in high-risk settings;

For individuals who received the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine, booster shots are also recommended for those who are 18 and older and who were vaccinated two or more months ago.

Per the CDC, eligible individuals now may choose which vaccine they receive as a booster dose. Some people may have a preference for the vaccine type that they originally received, and others may prefer to get a different booster. CDC’s recommendations now allow for this type of mix and match dosing for booster shots.

Also on Tuesday, Gov. Justice reported that the average age of COVID-19 deaths in West Virginia continues to decrease.

The average age of the individuals who passed away from COVID-19 in all of 2020 was 77 years old. However, over the course of 2021, the average has dropped all the way down to 67 years old – a full decade lower than where the average sat at the start of the year.

“We’ve fallen all the way to 67. It’s a big difference,” Gov. Justice said. “The people that are dying from this dreaded pandemic are getting younger and younger. You’ve got to get your booster shot.”

The statewide death toll from COVID-19 has reached 4,316, with 53 more deaths being reported since his previous briefing on Friday last week, including 14 as a result of the DHHR’s data reconciliation with official death certificates.

Of the 53 latest West Virginians to lose their battle against COVID-19, seven were in their 40s and one was in their 30s.

“From the standpoint of our parents, please encourage your children to get their vaccinations,” Gov. Justice added. “It’s going to get cold again really soon. And when it gets cold, we always run the risk of this thing picking back up again.”

Additionally Tuesday, Jim Hoyer, Director of the Joint Interagency Task Force announced that this week, West Virginia will not be receiving a shipment of doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for adults and instead will receive 50,000 doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for children, with officials expected to approve vaccines for children ages 5-11 soon.

“Pfizer is retooling their operations to make sure they get the appropriate amount of doses out to the 5-11 age group,” Hoyer said. “We have been able to order, centrally, 50,000 doses of the doses for children and our retail facilities are now able to request doses as well.

“So we believe we will have plenty of doses available for those children that need to get vaccinated.”

Information provided by the office of Gov. Jim Justice.

Staff Report