West Virginia Wants to Administer the fourth COVID-19 Vaccine Dose
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice said Thursday he will ask the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to grant permission to offer the fourth dose of COVID-19 vaccinations to residents 50 and older and also to essential workers.
Justice pointed out Israel at a news conference as the country that approved a 4th dose of COVID-19 vaccination last month. This was to prepare for the possibility of a new wave of infections caused by the omicron variant.
“We’ve to do something,” Justice said. We can either let our citizens die, or we can rest and allow our hospitals to overflow. Or , we can try. If the CDC comes back and says no we’re not able to do this right now and there’s enough governors that are compatible, we’ll sure go with them. And then we may get across the finish line that way.”
About half of West Virginia’s population is completely vaccinated.
“We haven’t yet discovered what omicron can do,” Dr. Clay Marsh, the state’s coronavirus expert explained. “The effectiveness of those vaccines is fading. We cannot afford to let our most vulnerable get sick from COVID-19.
“This is a critical time for us. We are hoping to receive an answer quickly.”
Justice’s request was made because West Virginia has set a record for daily coronavirus positive cases.
The 3,345 confirmed cases that were reported on Thursday were 29% higher than the previous record of 2,585 cases reported on Friday. Daily positive records have been broken four times during the past week, including on three consecutive days last week, according to the Department of Health and Human Resources The dashboard for the virus.
The number of people hospitalized from the virus is climbing up, too. There were 758 COVID-19 hospitalizations on Wednesday, a rise from 557 at Christmas, health officials said. The record for most COVID-19 hospitalizations was 1,012 which was set on September 24.
The concern about hospitalizations are facility staffing numbers and the lack of beds available, said James Hoyer, who leads the state’s coronavirus task force. Around 1,700 nurses declined renewals of their state licensure in 2020.
Justice said that 68% of those who quit the field were “just plain tired” and were “pushed to their limits by the strains of the pandemic.
The state has modified the number of active cases according to U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines that now reflect an active status duration of five days instead of 10 days. On Wednesday the number of active cases was close to 12,000, which was revised down from 18,900 cases on Tuesday.
Since March 2020, West Virginia has seen more than 5,400 deaths due to the pandemic.