COVID-19 UPDATE: Gov. Justice: FDA authorizes booster dose for children ages 5-11 who are five months removed from primary vaccine series


Governor also commemorates Foster Care Month; welcomes foster family onto briefing to share success story
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 and vaccine distribution efforts.
During Thursday’s briefing, Gov. Justice announced that, earlier in the week, the United States FDA authorized the use of a single booster dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 5-11 who are at least five months removed from the completion of their primary series of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine. 

As a result of this authorization, the FDA is now encouraging booster doses for all Americans over ages 5 and older.

“This stuff is not going to go away easily, but it’s something we can live with if we are all properly vaccinated,” Gov. Justice said. “You have a lot of smart people – medical experts – telling you to get yourself and your family properly vaccinated and boosted. I’m begging you to heed their advice.”
Second booster shots are recommended for all West Virginians ages 50 and over who are also at least four months removed from their first booster dose, as well as certain younger immunocompromised individuals ages 12 and older.

All West Virginians who qualify can get a second booster dose anywhere vaccines are available.

The state’s free COVID-19 Vaccination Due Date Calculator – the only tool of its kind in the nation – has been updated to determine whether people are eligible for a second booster dose.
On Thursday, Gov. Justice reported that there are now 2,079 active cases of COVID-19 statewide; up by 115 cases since his previous briefing on Monday and the first day with over 2,000 active cases since March 5.

“Think about this: we’re getting hundreds of new positive cases every day, but we also have far more at-home test kits than we’ve ever had. So, if people are testing positive but not reporting the results, we may even have more positive cases that we aren’t even aware of,” Gov. Justice said. “We’ve got to be super careful. If we’re not, this thing could whiplash right back around on us.”

Over the past month, the number of active cases in the state has more than quadrupled. Hospitalizations have increased slightly in the same timeframe, while the number of patients in ICUs and patients on ventilators have leveled off.

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An updated breakdown of the West Virginia County Alert Map is as follows:
Red (0) | Orange (0) Gold (0) | Yellow (26) | Green (29)
Gov. Justice also recapped his trip to Lindside Senior Center on Tuesday, where he and Babydog presented a $100,000 check to Monroe County seniors as grand prize winners in Do it for Babydog: Senior Center Edition.

As part of the Governor’s push to encourage West Virginians ages 50 and older to get their booster dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, a series of booster shot clinics were organized at senior centers across the state. Do it for Babydog: Senior Center Edition offered a $100,000 grand prize and a visit from Gov. Justice and Babydog to four senior centers across the state that best took advantage of the clinics to get the highest rate of their county’s seniors boosted.

Monroe County boosted the second-most seniors per capita of any county in West Virginia during the promotion.

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Additionally Thursday, Gov. Justice took time out of his remarks on COVID-19 to announce that he has issued a proclamation formally declaring May 2022 as Foster Care Month in West Virginia.

The month acknowledges the foster parents, family members, volunteers, mentors, policymakers, child welfare professionals, and other members of the community who help children and youth in foster care find permanent homes and connections.

During his briefing, the Governor welcomed Aaron Wagoner and his father Toby onto the broadcast. Toby is a pastor in Ravenswood and Aaron is a senior at Ripley Christian Academy.

Aaron was in the state’s foster care system at a very young age and is now graduating high school. He will be joining the U.S. Air Force after graduation.
“Back in 2008, my wife and I decided we wanted to be foster parents after some folks that we went to church with had foster children and we saw the impact that they had on their lives,” Toby said. “We watched these kids just blossom with this positive reinforcement, so we decided to get certified and that we would go into foster care.”

Not long later, Toby says, his family decided to foster Aaron and his two siblings.

“We already had two biological children. So our little family of four quickly became a family of seven.”

Three years later, Toby and his family adopted all three of the children they had fostered.

“They had been with us for three years and we couldn’t have imagined them going anywhere else,” Toby said. “We loved them. They loved us. So we talked to the kids about it and we decided that we were going to adopt.

“This has been an incredible story for our family. We’re big proponents of foster care. We think that parents really can make a difference.”

Aaron added, “I wanted to encourage the kids who are in the foster care system to set high goals for themselves and to do what they can to reach those goals. I always say that, if life pushes you, just push back and get through the adversity in life and reach those goals that you have set for yourself. I’m proof that you can do that. I am graduating high school and I’ve enlisted in the United States Air Force.”

“This young man is on his way. He is choosing a career in the military to protect us all,” Gov. Justice said. “We can never thank him and honor him enough for what he’s doing for all of us, and it’s all been made possible by a great family and our great foster care system. For this man to step up with his family, think about the level of courage and faith it takes to make that decision to step up and do that. It’s God’s work.”

“We’re here to thank you, Governor, Secretary Crouch, and all the fine folks who work at DHHR,” Toby added. “We’ve met so many families just like ours. There are so many stories like ours that people never hear about. You always hear about the ones who kind of fall through the cracks, but you never hear about the real positive stories where people are making a difference and, without the people that you have on your team and without your leadership, this wouldn’t happen.

“Our hope is that many of those families, when given the opportunity, will find adoption. We were worried about that. We had three kids that we were going to have to adopt. We were thinking, ‘How can we afford that?’ But we talked to the DHHR about it and they were able to help guide us through that process, help us find funding, and it all worked out.”
To learn more about becoming a foster parent, contact Mission WV online at or by calling 304-512-0555.
Also on Thursday, Gov. Justice announced that he has approved ​​15% salary increases for direct services employees of the West Virginia DHHR’s Bureau for Social Services.

The increases are anticipated to be effective on June 18.

“I told you we’d get this done and we got it done without spending any excess money,” Gov. Justice said. “I always say we need to mind the store and we’ve done it the right way. As a result, we’re now able to compensate these people that are doing incredible work. I appreciate all the great work by Secretary Crouch and so many people at DHHR that have put in a lot of good licks on this.”

The Governor went on to say that plans are also in the works to publish a child welfare dashboard on June 1, showing information on CPS placements, referrals, and workloads, as well as other important information.
Additionally, Gov. Justice discussed his announcement from Wednesday that – for the 7th consecutive month – West Virginia has set a new all-time record for the lowest unemployment rate recorded in state history, posting a 3.6% seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for April 2022.

The state’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate has now decreased every month for two years straight – a total of 24 consecutive months.

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Gov. Justice’s Job Jumpstart Program (JJP), which provides a one-time, $1,500 payment to eligible West Virginians who get a new job and remain employed for at least eight weeks, has further incentivized many West Virginians who have not had a job for an extended period of time to return to the workforce.

The Governor provided an update on the JJP Thursday, announcing that over 15,900 West Virginians have now been approved to participate in the program.

“I’m absolutely just so proud of what we’re doing in West Virginia. It’s off the chart. We need to toot our own horn,” Gov. Justice said. “We’re a long ways from finished. I’ve got as much enthusiasm and as much fire in me as I’ve ever had. I want to try to get our unemployment rate even lower and set another record next month. I want to keep making it even better, over and over for decades to come, so we can bring more and more opportunities for the great people of our great state.”
Gov. Justice also took time to recap his visit to Lewisburg Tuesday, where he announced that a scenic loop of US Route 219 and WV Route 92 – newly named the Seneca Skyway – has officially been designated as the first route of the West Virginia Mountain Rides program.

The new program is a collaborative partnership between the West Virginia Department of Transportation and the West Virginia Department of Tourism to designate and promote the state’s most scenic country roads to drive by car or motorcycle.

Seneca Skyway starts in Lewisburg, spanning through the Potomac Highlands as far north as Tucker County before returning to Lewisburg, making for a smooth and easy loop for riders. The entire route traverses nearly 300 miles of winding country roads and can be completed within a little over a six-hour round trip drive.

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Additionally, Gov. Justice echoed an announcement by First Lady Cathy Justice on Wednesday that she is hosting a West Virginia Birthday Cake Contest in honor of the state’s 159th birthday.

West Virginia residents are invited to create and submit an original cake recipe. One recipe will be chosen and designated the official West Virginia birthday cake, served every year on June 20th to celebrate the anniversary of West Virginia’s statehood.

The deadline for submissions is June 7, 2022.

Click here to read more & submit your cake recipe

Contact Information

Jordan Damron,


Office of the Governor
State Capitol, 1900 Kanawha Blvd. E
Charleston, WV 25305

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