West Virginians warned against skipping the COVID-19 booster dose | News, Sports, Jobs – Community News

West Virginians warned against skipping the COVID-19 booster dose | News, Sports, Jobs

West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice will give a briefing on September 30 on the status of the COVID-19 pandemic in the state. (Photo courtesy of W.Va. Governor’s Office)

CHARLESTON — Nearly 550,000 West Virginians age 50 and older are considered fully vaccinated against COVID-19, but fewer than 49,000 statewide have received booster doses.

Governor Jim Justice and State Coronavirus Czar Dr. Clay Marsh urged residents to get an extra shot at Wednesday’s online pandemic briefing.

“We know that about 25% of people in our hospitals are fully vaccinated today,” Marsh said. “And that really tells us that the potency of the vaccines is declining in these people and we definitely need to get a boost.”

As he tends to do, Justice said it more bluntly.

“To be hesitant and put off your booster and play outside in the sun, some of you will die,” he said.

A person is considered fully vaccinated two weeks after receiving their second Pfizer or Moderna vaccination or the single Johnson and Johnson shot.

But Marsh said the two-dose vaccines are most beneficial for two to four months.

“And then after about four months we see a pretty clear reduction in potency,” he said. “So six months after the first vaccine, we see a greatly reduced potency.”

But studies from Israel suggest the Pfizer booster is effective for much longer, Marsh said.

Federal regulators have approved additional doses for people age 65 and older, those with pre-existing medical conditions, and those who work in high-risk environments. While Pfizer is seeking approval for boosters for anyone 18 years and older, Marsh said the criteria now — including obesity, a current or former smoker, and certain mental illnesses — mean nearly everyone is eligible six months after their second injection or two months. after the Johnson and Johnson dose.

“Given the criteria released by the CDC, we believe any West Virginian who wants a vaccine, a booster, is eligible to get one,” he said.

James Hoyer, head of the West Virginia Joint Vaccine Task Force, said if anyone is unsure about eligibility or doesn’t know where to get a booster, they should call the state hotline at 1-833-734 -0965.

The state has enough booster doses and Pfizer inoculations for children ages 5-11. More precise numbers on that age group, recently approved for vaccination by federal authorities, should be available later this week, but Hoyer said the initial response is similar to when vaccines became available for 12- to 17-year-olds, about 40%.

“It’s not nearly what it should be,” he said.

Marsh and Hoyer noted that the state’s Rt number — which measures the rate at which the virus is spreading — had risen from 0.83 about a week ago to 0.92 Wednesday.

“We know that when our Rt goes above 1 and stays above 1 for a consistent period of time, we will see an increase in the number of cases, and then a subsequent delayed increase in the number of hospital admissions, followed by a delayed increase in the number of cases. the number of deaths,” Hoyer said.

Marsh said as temperatures drop and more people move indoors, the risk of the virus spreading increases. But he worries that people may lose focus and may not view the virus as a serious threat.

“We could see another substantial increase, and we could lose a lot more people, and our hospitals are stretched as far as they can be stretched right now,” Marsh said.

Justice also addressed some non-COVID issues, including criticism of John Kerry, President Joe Biden’s special envoy on climate, for his comments that the US would not use coal by 2030 and thanked Senator Joe Manchin, DW.Va. , Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, RW.Va., and Rep. David McKinley, RW.Va., for voting to approve the recent federal infrastructure package. He added that he understood the no votes of Representatives Alex Mooney and Carol Miller, both RW.Va., based on concerns it could lead to an unnecessary and expensive social spending bill, which the governor dismissed as a attempt to win votes in the midterm elections.

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