COVID-19 UPDATE: Vaccine for children ages 5-11 approved; West Virginia doctor administers vaccine to her 7-year-old son during briefing


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 announced during Wednesday’s briefing that, with the CDC now recommending Pfizer-BioNTech’s pediatric COVID-19 vaccine for use by children ages 5-11, West Virginia’s Joint Interagency Task Force (JIATF) has already begun distributing and administering doses of the vaccine to children across the state.

“We’ve been preparing for weeks for these vaccines for our kids to be approved,” Gov. Justice said. “We were ready to go and we’ve hit the ground running.”
Gov. Justice was joined virtually by Dr. Jessica McColley with Cabin Creek Health Systems and her 7-year-old son, Jacob.

Championing the safety and effectiveness of the pediatric COVID-19 vaccine, Dr. McColley administered the vaccine to her son live on-air.
“Jacob is a strong guy and he’s getting to pick out some Legos for this,” Dr. McColley said.

Jacob, I’m really, really proud of you,” Gov. Justice said. “We congratulate this young man. It’s wonderful.”
“The 5-to-11-year-olds will receive about one-third of the dose of adults with 10 micrograms, whereas adults are at 33 micrograms for Pfizer,” Dr. McColley said. “We know that children’s immune systems are so much better than ours. All of the studies have proven that they gain a robust immune response from just that 10 micrograms.”

“Jacob is a role model for many others,” said. State Coronavirus Czar Dr. Clay Marsh. “Just remember, spread in children with the Delta variant of COVID-19 is like it is in adults, except that children tend to be asymptomatic much more frequently than adults do. We know that 8,300 children 5 to 11 years old had been hospitalized with COVID-19 and 44% of the very complex multisystem inflammatory syndrome associated with COVID-19 occurs in children 5 to 11 years old, which can be a really devastating complication of COVID-19 in this age group.

“Preliminary studies of the pediatric vaccine do not demonstrate any complications like heart inflammation in this group of children,” Dr. Marsh continued. “So, with that really good news, we hope that all parents take an opportunity and advantage to protect your child in this age group. Vaccines are being delivered today. Pay attention to your local providers and contact them to make sure that those are available for you where you live.”
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 Wednesday, Gov. Justice reported that there are now 6,635 active cases of COVID-19 statewide; down by 305 cases since the Governor’s previous briefing on Monday.

The active case count is down by 23,109 since peaking in mid-September, dropping by 77.7% 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 37.8% and 47.2% since peaking in the final week of September.

The number of hospitalizations is now 561; down by 46 over the past week. Since peaking at 1,012, hospitalizations have dropped by 451 (44.6%).

The number of patients in ICUs is now 184; down by 11 over the past week. Since peaking at 296, the number of patients in ICUs has dropped by 112 (37.8%).

The number of patients on ventilators is now 103; down by 12 over the past week. Since peaking at 195, the number of patients on ventilators has dropped by 92 (47.2%).

The County Alert System map now features six green counties, six yellow counties, eight gold counties, 25 orange counties, and 10 red counties.
Gov. Justice also reported that, per the West Virginia Department of Education, there are currently 41 school outbreaks in 19 counties with 630 confirmed cases.

COVID-19 Outbreaks in State Public Schools (WVDE)
Also on Wednesday, Gov. Justice took time out of his remarks on COVID-19 to announce that West Virginia is among the top 10 states nationwide to offer foundational computer science courses to public school students.

The announcement is part of the annual State of Computer Science Education report by the Computer Science Teachers Association and other groups.

“West Virginia is a pioneer in creating a computer science K-12 pathway for all students,” Gov. Justice said.

Of West Virginia’s public high schools, 76% offered foundational computer science courses last school year. This is a significant increase since the 2018-2019 school year, at which point only 46% of schools provided these courses. Meanwhile, 87% of West Virginia students attended a high school with at least one computer science course last year.

“In my very first State of the State address, I said we absolutely have got to make education our centerpiece,” Gov. Justice said. “I love our kids, and I want them to have the greatest education, the greatest possibilities, the greatest hope and opportunity that they can possibly have.”
This progress was made possible thanks in large part to Senate Bill 267. Signed by Gov. Justice in February 2019, the bill tasked the West Virginia Department of Education with reaching all West Virginia students with computer science education opportunities. The bill also made West Virginia one of the first states in the country to require that all students start their computer science education in elementary school.
Click here to read more
Additionally Wednesday, Gov. Justice took time to announce that all West Virginia and U.S. veterans and active duty military personnel who stay at a West Virginia state park lodge throughout the month of November are eligible for a 50% discount on lodge room stays.

“We’re just days away from Veterans Day,” Gov. Justice said. “Just think about what our veterans have given us. In this great country, we owe every single thing that we have in this life to our veterans and our active military as well. So many gave the ultimate sacrifice. So many gave so much and they ask for almost nothing in return.

“So we want to treat our veterans and we’re going to do just that,” Gov. Justice continued. “Absolutely, it’s a fabulous deal.”
The 50% off lodging deal is underway immediately and continues through Tuesday, Nov. 30. During this period, the deal can be utilized on lodge rooms booked as far in advance as March 31, 2022.

To receive the 50% off lodging deal, guests can make an online reservation at and use offer code “VETS50” at checkout.

When making reservations by calling a park or the West Virginia State Park Customer Call Center at 1-833-WVPARKS, the “Veterans Appreciation Rate” should be requested.

Presentation of military or veteran status will be requested upon check-in.

West Virginia State Parks is also expanding discounts to show appreciation to veterans and active duty military personnel year-round.
Click here to read more
Gov. Justice also took time to recap his journey across the state yesterday to announce the recipients of 18 federal grants, worth over $65.8 million, for hazard mitigation projects to help protect communities throughout West Virginia from future disasters.

“It’s an absolutely staggering amount that will really help several communities with their mitigation efforts and planning,” Gov. Justice said. “It’s just more and more good stuff on the way in West Virginia.”

The funds are being made available through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Community Development Block Grant Mitigation Program (CDBG-MIT). The program helps communities impacted by recent natural disasters carry out strategic and high-impact activities to mitigate disaster risks and reduce future losses.

The Governor announced the grant recipients at a series of events in Oak Hill, Craigsville, Marlinton, and Alderson.
Click to view recipients: Oak Hill / Craigsville events
Click to view recipients: Marlinton / Alderson events
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