CHARLESTON, WV (WOAY) – During his briefing today, Gov. Justice announced that pandemic response teams are on the move right now, getting booster shots of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine in the arms of at-risk West Virginians.
“We’re in nursing homes and assisted living facilities giving out shots right now all across the state,” Gov. Justice said. “We’ve always been at the forefront of vaccination efforts since they first became available and we’ve been ready for weeks to start giving out these boosters.”
After months of debate on the federal level, the CDC has authorized Pfizer booster shots for certain populations and also recommended a booster dose for those in high risk occupational and institutional settings.
“We pleaded with the CDC, we pleaded with the Biden Administration over and over for weeks and weeks, saying we’ve got to be giving out these boosters,” Gov. Justice said. “Thank goodness somebody is finally coming to their senses and saying this has to be done.”
The CDC recommends that:
- People 65 years and older and residents in long-term care settings should receive a booster shot of Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at least six months after their second dose of Pfizer.
- People aged 50–64 years with underlying medical conditions should receive a booster shot of Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at least six months after their second dose of Pfizer.
- People aged 18–49 years with underlying medical conditions may receive a booster shot of Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at least six months after their second Pfizer dose, based on their individual benefits and risks.
- People aged 18-64 years who are at increased risk for COVID-19 exposure and transmission because of occupational or institutional setting may receive a booster shot of Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at least six months after their second Pfizer dose, based on their individual benefits and risks.
“For the most part, if you got the Pfizer vaccine, you’re 18 or older, and you’re outside that six-month window, in just about any situation where you feel compromised, you can now go get your booster shot,” Gov. Justice said.
“The list of indications for all West Virginians who are six months out from their second dose of Pfizer is fairly broad, and they include a number of chronic diseases like cancer, kidney disease, a variety of lung diseases, dementia or other neurologic disease, diabetes – type 1 or type 2 – Down Syndrome, heart conditions, HIV infections, liver disease, being overweight…anybody who’s pregnant, sickle cell anemia, anybody who’s a current or former smoker, anybody who’s received a transplant, anybody who’s had a stroke or other brain disorders, anybody that has high blood pressure, or anybody that has substance use disorder,” State Coronavirus Czar Dr. Clay Marsh said. “We want to really encourage people that are eligible to please go to your pharmacy, to your primary care office, to your provider, or to your local health department and please get the booster.”
“We have plenty of doses, based on the management of our inventory,” Joint Interagency Task Force Director Jim Hoyer said. “There are booster shots being given in nursing homes now, as we are on this press conference. The boosters are also available at pharmacies, community clinics, hospitals, and some primary care providers who have been providing shots to their patients in their offices also have doses available. If you have an issue with finding a location, please contact the DHHR and they can help facilitate you getting to a location that has the Pfizer booster doses available.”
The authorization is specifically for individuals who have previously received two doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine.
The CDC will also evaluate recommendations for people who got the Moderna or Johnson & Johnson vaccines in the coming weeks.
Gov. Justice also reported that, after six straight days of case numbers declining rapidly, Friday saw a slight uptick in the active case count.
There are now 16,223 active cases of COVID-19 across West Virginia; up 943 cases from the Governor’s previous briefing on Wednesday. However, the total case count is still 45.5% lower than it was when it peaked at 29,744 exactly one week ago.
West Virginia saw new all-time record highs Friday for total hospitalizations (1,008) and the number of patients on ventilators (187). Meanwhile, the number of patients in ICUs (289) is just below the all-time record.
The statewide death toll from COVID-19 has reached 3,523, with 56 more deaths being reported since Wednesday.
Meanwhile, the County Alert System map now shows that 50 of the state’s 55 counties are still in either the highest-risk Red category or one step below in the Orange category.
Additionally Friday, Gov. Justice and State health officials took time to announce that, with flu season just around the corner, they are encouraging all West Virginians to get their flu vaccine.
According to health officials, everyone 6 months and older should receive this vaccine.
In addition to providing protection from the flu, this vaccine helps reduce the burden on hospitals and healthcare systems.
“The COVID vaccine and the flu shot can even be given at the same time,” Gov. Justice said. “These shots are really important. You have got to get them.”
Gov. Justice recapped his journey across the state yesterday to surprise some of the biggest winners from the fourth week of prize giveaways as part of his “Do it for Babydog: Round 2” Vaccination Sweepstakes.
First Thursday, the Governor visited a pair of West Virginia students, surprising Maggie Hill at John Adams Middle School in Kanawha County and Chazz Grady at Poca High School in Putnam County, naming each of them as winners of a full four-year scholarship to any public college or university in the state, including room and board, tuition, and books; a prize valued at over $100,000.
Benjamin Currence of Buckhannon, Samuel Smith of Charleston, and Danielle Stephenson of Charles Town were also drawn as scholarship winners this week.
Then, the Governor and Babydog surprised Bruce Kesterson of Davisville at Point Park in Parkersburg, presenting him with a brand new Tracker Pro Team 195 TXW Bass Boat, complete with a GPS fish tracker, FourStroke Mercury 150L Pro XS motor, and an accompanying trailer.
Finally, Gov. Justice and Babydog made their way to West Liberty University for a ceremony to give away three major sweepstakes prizes.
The Governor announced that Kassidy Wolfe – a member of the WLU Women’s Soccer Team – had won a brand new Audi sports car.
While at WLU, the Governor also named Homer Pierce of Weirton as the winner of free gas for 10 years; a prize valued at $40,000 and named Travis Bayes of Wheeling as the winner of a new Yamaha Grizzly ATV.
Also Thursday, Gov. Justice made a surprise call into Charleston radio station Electric 102.7 to announce that on-air personality Alison Mosby (Ali Jaye) had won 2021-2022 season passes for two to a ski resort in West Virginia through the sweepstakes.
A total of 25 West Virginians were announced as “Do it for Babydog” winners Thursday, taking home a variety of exciting prizes, including those mentioned above as well as a dream wedding valued at $150,000, top-of-the-line zero turn lawn mowers, and WVU and Marshall University football or basketball season ticket packages.
Vaccinated West Virginians only have two more chances to win in Round 2 of the “Do it for Babydog: Save a life, Change your life” Vaccination Sweepstakes.
All West Virginians who have had at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine can register at DoitforBabydog.wv.gov for an opportunity to join the list of winners. Over 220,000 West Virginians have registered for Round 2 of the sweepstakes to date.
*Those who previously registered for Round 1 of the vaccination sweepstakes are required to register again to be eligible for Round 2*
Online registration to be eligible to win in the next prize drawing will remain open until Sunday, Sept. 26, at 11:59 p.m. EDT. Winners will be announced next Thursday, Sept. 30.
Additional prize drawings will be held weekly, with winners being announced each Thursday through Oct. 7.
On Friday, Gov. Justice reported that, per the West Virginia Department of Education, there are currently 90 school outbreaks in 31 counties with 880 confirmed cases.
A total of 54 county school systems have either face covering requirements or a criteria for requiring face coverings. Only one county – Pocahontas County – does not have a face covering requirement at this time.
There are now three active outbreaks associated with churches throughout West Virginia. The churches are located in Monroe, Raleigh, and Wayne counties.
Additionally, there are now 85 active outbreaks in long-term care facilities across the state.
Meanwhile, there are now 244 active inmate cases and 72 active staff cases across the West Virginia Division of Corrections and Rehabilitation system. To view the latest DCR case update, click here.