COVID-19 UPDATE: Gov. Justice and medical experts urge boosters to maximize protection for those initially vaccinated months ago

11/10/2021

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CHARLESTON, WV – Gov. Jim Justice and members of the West Virginia COVID-19 pandemic response leadership team held another news briefing today to update the public on the State’s latest pandemic response efforts.
GOV. JUSTICE, MEDICAL EXPERTS AGAIN STRESS THE IMPORTANCE OF BOOSTER SHOTS
During Wednesday’s briefing, Gov. Justice and medical experts once again stressed the importance of booster shots of the COVID-19 vaccine for West Virginians who were initially vaccinated several months ago.

“I keep going back to what we said on Monday. If you’ve gotten two shots, and you’re six months out from when you got your last shot, it’s almost of no value. Your immunity level has dropped way, way, way down,” Gov. Justice said. “So we need folks to get their booster shot.”
State Coronavirus Czar Dr. Clay Marsh once again noted the substantial gap between the number of West Virginians who have only received their initial series of COVID-19 vaccination shots versus those who have more recently received a booster shot.

“When we look at our highest vulnerable group – West Virginians over 50 years old; which account for 97% of our deaths – we see that there are about 550,000 that are fully vaccinated, yet we’ve only given out about 48,000 boosters,” Dr. Marsh said. “We know that boosting is critically important for us to have current immune status, not only for protection against death or hospitalization, which is really important, but to stop COVID from spreading so that we can get back to our normal lives.

“Given the criteria that the CDC has released, we believe that every West Virginian who wants a vaccine booster is eligible to get one,” Dr. Marsh added.
There are now booster recommendations for all three available COVID-19 vaccines in the United States. 

Per the latest CDC recommendations, individuals who received either the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine are eligible for a booster shot if it has been at least six months since they completed their initial series of shots and they fall into at least one of the following groups: For individuals who received the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine, booster shots are also recommended for those who are 18 and older and who were vaccinated two or more months ago.
FIND A VACCINE NEAR YOU
Per the CDC, eligible individuals now may choose which vaccine they receive as a booster dose. Some people may have a preference for the vaccine type that they originally received, and others may prefer to get a different booster. CDC’s recommendations now allow for this type of mix and match dosing for booster shots.

If you are eligible for the booster shot, you can go to any location offering COVID-19 vaccines with your vaccination card to receive the booster. If your card has been lost, you can request a new one from the DHHR.
REGISTRATION NOW OPEN FOR “DO IT FOR BABYDOG: ROUND 3”
Also on Wednesday, Gov. Justice announced that online registration is now open for the third round of the ​​”Do it for Babydog: Save a life, Change your life” vaccination sweepstakes.

Do it for Babydog: Round 3 is focused on educating children and their parents on the safety of the COVID-19 vaccine and the importance of getting West Virginia’s youngest residents vaccinated.

This round of the sweepstakes is open to all West Virginians ages 5-18 who have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. Children ages 5-17 must have parental consent to be vaccinated and to register.
CLICK TO REGISTER: DoitforBabydog.wv.gov
This round of the sweepstakes will feature four weeks of prize giveaways.

The giveaway schedule will begin the week of Nov. 15, before taking a week off for the Thanksgiving holiday. Giveaways will resume the week of Nov. 29 and continue through the week of Dec. 6 and the week of Dec. 13.

The giveaway will include the following prizes each week:
  • 25 Prizes of a $10,000 Educational Savings Fund
  • 100 Lifetime Hunting and Fishing Licenses
  • 1 Grand Prize Educational Savings Fund for a student
  • 1 Grand Prize check and party for a school
GRAND PRIZES

Weeks 1-3
  • Student: One student per week will receive a $50,000 Educational Savings Fund.
  • School: One school per week will receive a $50,000 check and will host a party with Gov. Justice and Babydog. These events will include an on-site vaccine clinic and opening remarks by a doctor to talk about the safety and efficacy of vaccines.

Week 4
  • Student: One student will receive a $100,000 Educational Savings Fund.
  • School: One school will receive a $100,000 check and will host a special holiday party with Santa (Gov. Justice) and his reindeer (Babydog) bringing presents for students. This event will also include an on-site vaccine clinic and opening remarks by a doctor to talk about the safety and efficacy of vaccines.
The Educational Savings Fund prizes will be in the form of a 529 plan, managed by the State Treasurer’s Office, which will be invested and grow over time. The fund can be used for any educational-related expenses, not just higher education.

*Those who previously registered for Round 1 and/or Round 2 of the vaccination sweepstakes are required to register again to be eligible for Round 3*

Online registration to be eligible to win in the first prize drawing of Round 3 will remain open until Sunday, Nov. 14, at 11:59 p.m. EST. Winners will be announced the week of Nov. 15.

Last week, the CDC officially recommended Pfizer-BioNTech’s pediatric COVID-19 vaccine for use by children ages 5-11. Click here to read the CDC’s full guidance on COVID-19 vaccines for children and teens.

Free COVID-19 vaccinations are currently available to all West Virginians ages 5 and older.

All West Virginians interested in being vaccinated are encouraged to visit Vaccinate.wv.gov or call the West Virginia Vaccine Info Line: 1-833-734-0965. The info line is open Monday-Friday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
FIND A VACCINE NEAR YOU
GOV. JUSTICE PRESENTS $50,000 CHECKS TO FOUR OF WEST VIRGINIA’S HIGHEST-VACCINATED MIDDLE SCHOOLS
Gov. Justice also took time to recap his journey across the state yesterday to present students and staff at four of the highest-vaccinated middle schools in West Virginia each with $50,000 checks as winners in the West Virginia Department of Education’s I Got Vaxxed Competition.

“Yesterday, we went all over the place and the kids were fabulous – absolutely the best of the best,” Gov. Justice said. “I’m so proud of all of our winners, and you can’t say enough about the hard work that their teachers, administrators, and school service personnel are all doing. It’s amazing.”

Through the competition, a total of 12 public and private schools – four elementary schools, four middle schools, and four high schools – with the largest percentage of eligible vaccinated staff and students will each win $50,000 to use for activities or initiatives which will improve the student experience.

Gov. Justice’s first stop came at Andrew Jackson Middle School in Cross Lanes, where he and Babydog announced that the school had won one of the $50,000 prizes.
Next, the Governor and Babydog made their way to Elkview Middle School, announcing that the school had also won one of the $50,000 prizes.
Later in the day, Gov. Justice and Babydog visited Geary Elementary & Middle School in the Roane County community of Left Hand and announced the school was another one of the $50,000 prize winners.
Finally Tuesday, the Governor and Babydog visited students and faculty members at the Morgantown Learning Academy to announce that their school had also won one of the $50,000 grand prizes.

Morgantown Learning Academy is a non-profit, non-church-affiliated, private school for children from preschool to eighth grade. The purpose of MLA is to provide an alternative education of the highest quality for children of all racial, cultural, religious, and economic backgrounds.
A total of 77 public and private schools entered the competition, and all submitted vaccination data was verified by the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources to identify the winners. At least one winning school in each category is a private school.

Winning elementary schools and high schools will be announced soon.
CASE NUMBERS & HOSPITALIZATIONS UPDATE
On Wednesday, Gov. Justice reported that there are now 6,115 active cases of COVID-19 statewide; down by 203 cases since the Governor’s previous briefing on Friday last week.

The active case count is down by 23,629 since peaking in mid-September, dropping by 79.4% in that time.

COVID-19 Dashboard | Coronavirus.wv.gov

Meanwhile, the state continues to see a steady downward trend in the number of severe COVID cases.

The number of hospitalizations, patients in ICUs, and patients on ventilators have all dropped between 40.2% and 58.5% since peaking in the final week of September.

The number of hospitalizations is now 530; down by 29 over the past week. Since peaking at 1,012, hospitalizations have dropped by 482 (47.6%).

The number of patients in ICUs is now 177; down by 7 over the past week. Since peaking at 296, the number of patients in ICUs has dropped overall by 119 (40.2%).

The number of patients on ventilators is now 81; down by 22 over the past week. Since peaking at 195, the number of patients on ventilators has dropped by 114 (58.5%).

The County Alert System map now features 9 green counties, 6 yellow counties, 8 gold counties, 22 orange counties, and 10 red counties.
Gov. Justice also reported that, per the West Virginia Department of Education, there are currently 37 school outbreaks in 17 counties with 587 confirmed cases.

COVID-19 Outbreaks in State Public Schools (WVDE)
COVID-19 RESOURCES
GOV. JUSTICE TO HONOR VETERANS DAY WITH VIRTUAL CEREMONY TOMORROW, NOV. 11, AT 11:15 A.M.
Additionally, Gov. Justice took time out of his remarks on COVID-19 to provide a reminder that a virtual Veterans Day Ceremony will be broadcast online and on TV tomorrow – Thursday, Nov. 11, 2021 – at 11:15 a.m. in honor of the service and sacrifice of Veterans in West Virginia and across the country.

The event will feature messages from West Virginia National Guard Adjutant General Bill Crane, West Virginia Department of Veterans Assistance Secretary Ted Diaz, and West Virginia Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeff Sandy. The program will also include a performance from the Cabell Midland High School Marching Band and the National Anthem performed by the Winfield High School Show Choir.

The ceremony will be broadcast on the West Virginia Public Broadcasting Channel:
Find your station here (WVPB column)

The ceremony will also be livestreamed on the Governor’s social media platforms:
YouTube | Twitter | Facebook
GOV. JUSTICE TO HOST RIBBON-CUTTING CELEBRATION FOR FINAL SECTION OF U.S. ROUTE 35 TOMORROW, NOV. 11, AT 11:30 A.M.
Gov. Justice also took time to provide a reminder that the last 14.6-mile section of U.S. Route 35 will open to traffic tomorrow – Thursday, Nov. 11, 2021 – after a special ribbon-cutting ceremony to officially mark the opening of the road, which will be held at 11:30 a.m.

“It’s a $257 million project through our Roads to Prosperity program that we’re finishing. I hope you’ll join us for this big-time celebration,” Gov. Justice said. “It’s been 50 years in the making, but it’s finally here.”

All West Virginians are welcome to attend. All attendees MUST enter at the south entrance to the new section of U.S. Route 35 near the turn before the Buffalo Bridge. Access from all other points, including the north end of the new section of U.S. Route 35, will be prohibited. Signs and law enforcement will direct attendees to the event site.

The ceremony will be broadcast on West Virginia Public Broadcasting's West Virginia Channel: 
Find your station here (WV Channel column)

The ceremony will also be livestreamed on the Governor’s social media platforms:
YouTube | Twitter | Facebook

The event will also pay tribute to all Veterans and their families in honor of their sacrifice.

Immediately following the ribbon-cutting, Gov. Justice will lead a parade of vehicles along the new highway all the way to Point Pleasant, then back to Buffalo. All attendees are welcome to join.
GOVERNOR DISPELS RUMORS OF FUEL SHORTAGE
Also on Wednesday, Gov. Justice took time to put to rest rumors of a fuel shortage in southern West Virginia.

“We do not believe that there is a gas shortage that we’re going to have to deal with,” Gov. Justice said. “I understand that there are a few places where we’ve run out of gas, but it all comes down to planned maintenance efforts.”

The refinery in Catlettsburg, KY, which feeds most of West Virginia, is undergoing scheduled maintenance through next week.

Fuel is being brought in from other areas to cover this maintenance period and could lead to a slow down in distribution times at some specific stations.

However, the refinery has adequate fuel reserves in the event transport from other areas is slowed during the maintenance period.

“We’re on top of the situation. There is nothing to be alarmed about,” Gov. Justice said.
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Contact Information

Jordan Damron, jordan.l.damron@wv.gov

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Charleston, WV 25305

Office Phone:
304.558.2000 or 1.888.438.2731

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