CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WV News) – Dr. Clay Marsh, the COVID-19 Czar of West Virginia, said during Governor Jim Justice’s press conference on Wednesday that he wanted to speak clearly about the risks associated with COVID-19 as the state moves into winter and the importance of vaccination.
“We know that in states where the weather is getting colder, like Colorado, now Michigan, and in Europe, Germany and other countries, their cases are starting to increase again and they’re starting to see more problems with the spread of COVID-19,” said Marsh.
“We also know that in West Virginia we have a number of people who have not been vaccinated with the first or second shot, and we have a very large group of people who have not been vaccinated with boosters. We are starting to look at the winter months coming up. “
He noted that last winter, during one of the worst periods of the pandemic, the state’s hospital network came under severe strain amid rising caseloads.
As state hospitals face staff shortages, Marsh emphasized that officials “will do everything possible to protect access and the functioning of our hospital system.”
Marsh spoke candidly about the importance of vaccination, not only on these fronts, but also in ultimately ending the pandemic.
“We know this pandemic isn’t going to go away or become endemic, meaning it could be on an annual basis, like the flu, or less, until we get our population — meaning in West Virginia, in our country, and eventually in our world. – to have immunity, active immunity, at a level of 85-90%,” he said. “Right now we’re at about 51-54% so we have a lot of room to grow and help people vaccinate because we know vaccination is the way to get there.”
Marsh reiterated that on a more personal level, the vast majority of those who died had not been fully vaccinated.
He discussed the decline in vaccine efficacy after about six months after the last dose of vaccination for mRNA vaccines (Pfizer or Moderna) or two months after the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
Booster doses remain important for continued protection, he said, illustrating the slow nature of the booster rollout by pointing out that only about 48,000 have been delivered statewide.
By comparison, the vaccinated over-50s — those most vulnerable to severe COVID outcomes as vaccine efficacy declines — number about 550,000.
dr. Marsh also clarified the suitability of vaccine boosters.
Any West Virginian who meets the time requirements — six months after a second mRNA vaccine or two months after J&J — “may be eligible for a booster if you decide to get it. And we’d encourage every West Virginian to get it at this point.” get a booster.”