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Marsh says federal approve of COVID booster shots could come within the next week

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — State Coronavirus Czar Dr. Clay Marsh says it’s unlikely West Virginia will be able to administer COVID-19 vaccination booster shots at nursing homes before final federal approval of the boosters by the FDA and CDC.

Dr. Clay Marsh

Marsh said Tuesday on MetroNews “Talkline” that although he and state InterAgency Task Force Director Jim Hoyer have had ongoing discussions with the federal government, early approval probably won’t happen.

“All of the federal agencies, including the White House and others, are very committed to waiting until the FDA and CDC make the recommendation,” Marsh said.

That approval could be coming soon.

Marsh said the FDA’s biologics group’s next meeting is set for Friday. He said approval there could mean approval by the CDC this weekend.

“We may be getting the green light at least on some of our population by early next week, so we wait with a lot of hope,” Marsh said.

Gov. Jim Justice has been pushing for early approval of the boosters for West Virginia so the state and its partners can begin administering the shots at nursing homes. Nursing home residents were the first to receive the vaccinations in December and January. Marsh said the effectiveness of those shots would begin to wane soon.

President Joe Biden has previously said he hoped the boosters would be ready by Sept. 20.

Meanwhile, hospitalizations for COVID-19 continued to grow across the state Tuesday. The numbers from the West Virginia Hospital Association listed pandemic highs for hospitalizations (879), ICU patients (267) and patients on ventilators (158).

Marsh said hospitals are crowded but the situation hasn’t reached a level, like it has in Idaho, of rationing care.

“We are not in that setting yet but we still are not out of the woods,” Marsh said. “That’s why we are so insistent on really recommending, asking, pleading, for people to get fully vaccinated.”

Marsh said the continuing surge of the Delta variant and the low vaccination numbers have put West Virginia “at risk.”

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