Justice urges fully vaccinated residents to get booster

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Gov. Jim Justice expressed concern Monday with the seemingly slow pace state residents are getting their booster shots against COVID-19.

Governor Jim Justice

The COVID dashboard from the state Department of Health and Human Resources showed roughly 45,000 state residents have received a booster shot. Justice said that’s not nearly enough.

“You’ve got 45,000 people that have taken their boosters, what are we going to need to do?” Justice asked. “Well, I promise you what we’re going to need to do, we’re going to need to get more body bags.”

The numbers show only 8% of those 50 and older have received a booster and 15% of those 65 and older.

Justice said those numbers would likely increase in the coming weeks with the recent approval of boosters for those who received their first two shots from the Moderna or the Johnson & Johnson vaccines. Also the state began administering booster shots for thousands of nursing home residents a few days ago. That process is expected to be completed by the end of the week.

Justice said he’s still concerned that there are many residents who believe they are safe after two shots.

“The vaccine has worn off if you’re six months out,” Justice said. “It’s not gone but absolutely if they don’t get their booster shots we’re going to have to get more body bags.”

The DHHR says lists 253 breakthrough deaths or 0.028% of those fully vaccinated who have died from COVID-19.

Shots for children

An advisory panel with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) meets Tuesday and is expected to approve a reduced dose of Pfizer vaccine for children ages 5-11.

Dr. Clay Marsh

State Coronavirus Czar Dr. Clay Marsh said Monday West Virginia continues to see new cases among young children.

“So we hope that parents will choose to fully vaccinate their 5-to-11-year-old children. That’s really important to prevent the risk of Long COVID, the uncommon risk that that these children may experience severe disease if they do get infected, and also to reduce the transmission and continue to reduce the risk for all West Virginians of developing COVID-19 and ending up in the hospital or, even more concerning, to end up on the list of names that the Governor reads during every press briefing,” Marsh said.

State InterAgency Task Force Director Jim Hoyer said the state was set to receive the first shipment of 50,000 doses ordered of the child vaccine later Monday.

Hoyer said the state has a distribution plan ready to go.

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