COVID-19 UPDATE: Gov. Justice announces $150 school voucher now available for vaccinated children ages 5-11 through Healthy Grandfamilies program


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.
During Friday’s briefing, Gov. Justice announced that West Virginia grandfamilies with grandchildren ages 5-11 are now eligible to receive a $150 school voucher for getting vaccinated against COVID-19 through the Healthy Grandfamilies vaccination incentive program.
The eligibility expansion follows the CDC’s recent recommendation of Pfizer-BioNTech's pediatric COVID-19 vaccine for use by children ages 5-11.

The Healthy Grandfamilies vaccination incentive program offers a $150 voucher for school supplies to all vaccinated grandfamilies in West Virginia – families where grandparents are the primary caregivers for their grandchildren.
To qualify, all vaccine-eligible members of the grandfamily, including grandparents and grandchildren ages 5 and older, must have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. The family must also be enrolled in West Virginia State University’s Healthy Grandfamilies program. Enroll at

Healthy Grandfamilies, which provides information and resources to grandparents who are raising one or more grandchildren, is assisting in the administration of the school voucher incentive. According to the organization, about 19,000 West Virginia children live in households with a grandparent or grandparents as their primary caregiver.
Also on Friday, Gov. Justice discussed President Joe Biden’s recently announced federal policy, currently slated to go into effect on Jan. 4, 2022, which would mandate that millions of Americans who fall into certain categories be vaccinated.

“While I adamantly disagree with what’s going on with the Biden administration in regard to this, it is a federal requirement and would trump the state law that we sent up and the Legislature passed forbidding people from being terminated from their jobs for not being vaccinated if they had religious or medical exemptions,” Gov. Justice said. “I think with all in me that we should absolutely be respectful of people’s freedom of choice.

“Now, do I really believe that you ought to get vaccinated? Of course I do. I’ve said it over and over,” Gov. Justice continued. “Do I believe that it enhances your odds of not getting sick and phenomenally enhances them from the standpoint of the potential of death? Of course it does. But we still should abide by our Constitution. It should be a choice of the people.

“There are a ton of lawsuits that are opposing this,” Gov. Justice added.

The Governor noted that West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey announced today that he has partnered with six other attorneys general to file a petition before the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, challenging the Biden Administration’s vaccine mandate for private sector employees.
Additionally Friday, Gov. Justice announced that medical experts at West Virginia University and Marshall University will use federal grant funding to study variants of COVID-19 in West Virginia.

Both universities jointly received a grant worth $678,030 from the National Institutes of Health for the purpose of assisting researchers at WVU and Marshall with studying and identifying COVID-19 variants. 

“It’s just more dollars coming to our universities to help us,” Gov. Justice said. “These are great West Virginians who are doing great work for us all the time.”
Gov. Justice yet again encouraged all West Virginians to determine if they qualify for a booster dose and then immediately get one if they are eligible.

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.
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.
* = Underlying medical conditions: State Coronavirus Czar Dr. Clay Marsh has noted that the list of underlying medical conditions that would qualify an individual to receive their booster shot is extremely broad. According to the CDC, such conditions include, but are not limited to:
  • Cancer
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • Chronic liver disease
  • Chronic lung diseases
  • Dementia or other neurological conditions
  • Diabetes (type 1 or type 2)
  • Down syndrome
  • Heart conditions
  • HIV infection
  • Immunocompromised state (weakened immune system)
  • Mental health conditions
  • Overweight and obesity
  • Pregnancy
  • Sickle cell disease or thalassemia
  • Smoking, current or former
  • Solid organ or blood stem cell transplant
  • Stroke or cerebrovascular disease, which affects blood flow to the brain
  • Substance use disorders
  • Tuberculosis
Click here to read more (via CDC)
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.
On Friday, Gov. Justice reported that there are now 6,832 active cases of COVID-19 statewide; up by 197 cases since the Governor’s previous briefing on Wednesday.

Despite the small increase over the past two days, the active case count is down overall by 22,912 cases since peaking in mid-September, a drop of 77% in that time.

COVID-19 Dashboard |

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 32.8% and 46.5% since peaking in the final week of September.

The number of hospitalizations is now 541; down by 59 over the past week. Since peaking at 1,012, hospitalizations have dropped by 471 (46.5%).

The number of patients in ICUs is now 199; up by 14 over the past week. Despite the slight increase, since peaking at 296, the number of patients in ICUs has dropped by 97 (32.8%).

The number of patients on ventilators is now 105; down by 12 over the past week. Since peaking at 195, the number of patients on ventilators has dropped by 90 (46.2%).

The County Alert System map now features four green counties, eight yellow counties, six gold counties, 30 orange counties, and seven red counties.
Gov. Justice also reported that, per the West Virginia Department of Education, there are currently 40 school outbreaks in 19 counties with 612 confirmed cases.

COVID-19 Outbreaks in State Public Schools (WVDE)
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Jordan Damron,


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