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Justice urges covid-19 boosters now that they’re available for many who got Pfizer

Gov. Jim Justice is urging people to get booster shots now that they are available for many people who received the Pfizer vaccine for covid-19.

“Without question in any way, go get the booster shot. Go get the booster shot now,” Justice said today.

The federal government on Thursday gave an OK for boosters for millions of Americans who originally got the Pfizer vaccine. The millions of people who got Moderna or Johnson & Johnson’s covid vaccines aren’t yet eligible.

Rochelle Walensky

“We will address, with the same sense of urgency, recommendations for the Moderna and J&J vaccines as soon as those data are available,” stated Rochelle Walensky, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention.

Those eligible now include people who got the Pfizer vaccine at least six months ago and who have these conditions:

— People 65 and older, nursing home residents and assisted living residents are advised to receive a booster shot.

— Others ages 50 to 64 with underlying medical conditions including cancer, diabetes, asthma, HIV infection and heart disease are also advised to get a booster shot soon. A broad category that qualifies is people who are considered obese.

— And younger people with underlying medical conditions or who work where they may be at increased risk of covid-19 exposure may receive a booster.

“Many of the people who are now eligible to receive a booster shot received their initial vaccine early in the vaccination program and will benefit from additional protection,” wrote CDC officials.

“With the delta variant’s dominance as the circulating strain and cases of covid-19 increasing significantly across the United States, a booster shot will help strengthen protection against severe disease in those populations who are at high-risk for exposure to covid-19 or the complications from severe disease.”

West Virginia officials today agreed.

“We want to really encourage people who are eligible to please go to your pharmacy, to your primary care office, to your provider or your health department and please get the booster,” said Dr. Clay Marsh, covid-19 response adviser.

West Virginia reported upticks Friday in some key categories for tracking the effects of covid-19.

The state reported 2,685 new cases over the past couple of days. West Virginia now reports 16,223 active cases overall.

West Virginia reports 1,005 covid-19 patients in the hospital. Of those, 81 percent are unvaccinated.

The state reports 290 people with covid-19 who need to be in intensive care units. Of those, about 86 percent are unvaccinated.

And 187 covid-19 patients need the aid of a ventilator to breathe. Of those, 86 percent are unvaccinated.

All of those hospitalization numbers are up and keep climbing.

One of West Virginia’s major hospital networks, WVU Medicine, today reported 407 covid patients at its hospitals including 117 at Ruby Memorial. The hospital said there are no beds available at Ruby and 10 people on the wait list.

Justice acknowledged the strain on the hospital system and expressed hope of some relief as booster shots become available for those whose original vaccinations are less potent than they first were.

“You have already made a decision in life to get vaccinated. You have already made that decision,” Justice said. “Just go and get your booster shot and you will help us stop this surge at the hospital as well.”

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