CHARLESTON, WV (WOAY) – With cases of the Omicron variant of COVID-19 continuing to increase exponentially, Gov. Justice has sent a letter to President Biden asking him to direct the FDA and CDC to authorize West Virginia to immediately begin offering an additional dose of the vaccine (4th dose overall) to certain at-risk members of the state’s population who are at least three months out from their first booster dose.
West Virginia is the first state in the nation to make this request.
“Just like West Virginia has led the nation time and again throughout this pandemic, Israel has led the world. And, right now, Israel is offering a fourth dose to an even bigger population – people who are four months out from their Pfizer or Moderna booster shots,” Gov. Justice said. “What we want to do is walk hand-in-hand with Israel.”
Gov. Justice said that in his letter, he will propose that all West Virginians who are age 50 and older and essential workers be the first ones eligible for the extra dose.
“The Biden Administration just the other day said that the states really ought to be the ones to handle this, so that’s what we want to do,” Gov. Justice continued. “First of all, it’ll save a bunch more lives. But secondly, if we do nothing, we’re going to end up with a run on our hospitals like you can’t imagine. The Omicron variant is super-potent. If we don’t move right now, we’re going to have people sitting outside the emergency room in their cars that can’t even get into the hospital.”
The decision is based upon the recommendations of West Virginia’s COVID-19 response leadership team, including State Coronavirus Czar Dr. Clay Marsh and JIATF Director Jim Hoyer, both of whom were in attendance for the briefing.
Gov. Justice also announced that the CDC and FDA have now authorized the Pfizer COVID-19 booster for use in children ages 12 to 15, meaning that booster shots are now authorized for all West Virginians ages 12 and older.
The CDC and FDA have also shortened the waiting period to get the Pfizer booster from six months after receiving the initial series of shots to five months.
The FDA has approved and is encouraging booster doses for all Americans over 12 years old.
COVID-19 booster shots are available, for free, to all eligible West Virginians. Read more about booster eligibility at CDC.gov.
West Virginians can go to any location offering COVID-19 vaccines with their vaccination card to receive their booster. If your card has been lost, you can request a new one from the DHHR.
Initial series vaccinations are available, for free, for everyone ages 5 and older.
West Virginians interested in being vaccinated or having their children vaccinated are encouraged to visit Vaccinate.wv.gov or call the West Virginia Vaccine Info Line: 1-833-734-0965.