CHARLESTON — During Wednesday’s briefing, Gov. Justice announced that West Virginia will start offering COVID-19 vaccines to additional state residents beginning immediately.
“We’re going to move more aggressively to try to get more people vaccinated and widen the scope of our vaccination efforts because, at the end of the day, we’re going to start having more vaccines available to us and we want to just keep pushing them out,” Gov. Justice said. “Remember, the last thing we want in West Virginia is to have a bunch of vaccines just sitting on the shelf. So we’re moving as quickly as we possibly can, West Virginia. We continue to run to the fire.”
Vaccinations are now available for all West Virginia residents age 50 and older, all West Virginia education workers from 40 to 50 years old, and all West Virginians age 16 and older with any of the following pre-existing medical conditions:
- Down syndrome
- Intellectual and developmental disabilities and their caretakers
- Caretakers of those with congenital or acquired disease
- Organ or bone marrow transplant
- Obesity (BMI > 35)
- Sickle cell anemia
- Cystic fibrosis
West Virginia Coronavirus Czar Dr. Clay Marsh said during his remarks that West Virginians who now qualify because of the listed medical conditions are encouraged to pre-register at vaccinate.wv.gov or by calling 1-833-734-0965 so officials can ensure that all such individuals are properly prioritized and are able to be vaccinated as efficiently as possible.
Dr. Marsh added that the Joint Interagency Task Force for Vaccines will coordinate with health systems across the state to reach out to all individuals with qualifying medical conditions to assist them in scheduling an appointment to be vaccinated.
All West Virginians ages 16 and over need to pre-register to receive the vaccine. Individuals with an occupation or pre-existing medical condition that would qualify them for vaccination immediately under the newly expanded allocation protocols should note their occupation or condition upon registration.
West Virginians who are age 65 and older will continue to be prioritized first until all state residents in this age range who desire the vaccine have been vaccinated. Any West Virginians age 65 and older who are still waiting on an appointment are urged to call the West Virginia Vaccine Info Line: 1-833-734-0965 to make sure that providers can schedule your vaccination.
Also on Wednesday, West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources Secretary Bill Crouch told the story of a recent nursing home outbreak in the state that highlighted how getting vaccinated, when it’s your turn, can save your life and the lives of others.
“Several weeks ago, we had an outbreak at a facility in West Virginia,” Sec. Crouch said. “All of the residents had been vaccinated and, as a result, zero residents were positive in that outbreak. This is a direct result of the Governor’s priority for our elderly in West Virginia – making sure they were the first to be tested and the first to be vaccinated. Interestingly, of the 60 staff members, seven chose not to take the vaccine, and all seven of those individuals tested positive during this outbreak.”
The Secretary noted that West Virginia has experienced a 93% reduction in the number of nursing home outbreaks reported from December, when vaccines first became available, to February.
“Vaccines work,” Sec. Crouch said. “We’re asking all nursing home staff who have not yet been vaccinated to please get your vaccination.”
Additionally Wednesday, Gov. Justice reported that there remains just one church-related outbreak in West Virginia. This outbreak is in Webster County and accounts for a total of just five cases.
There are now 10 outbreaks in long-term care facilities across the state, up from nine such outbreaks as of the Governor’s previous press briefing on Monday.
The Governor also reported that there are now 170 inmate cases across the West Virginia Division of Corrections and Rehabilitation (DCR) system, up from 83 on Monday, including 87 inmate cases at Western Regional Jail and 80 inmate cases at Southern Regional Jail.
Meanwhile, there are now 13 active staff cases across the DCR system, down from 17 on Monday. To view the latest DCR case update, click here.