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Justice: More eligible to receive vaccine

CHARLESTON — As part of his regular COVID-19 briefing Monday, Gov. Jim Justice announced that more West Virginians with pre-existing medical conditions and all essential workers regardless of age will be eligible to receive the COVID vaccine.

Justice said all residents over the age of 16 will be able to get the vaccine with certain medical conditions.

Some of those conditions added are asthma, diabetes, high blood pressure, chronic infectious disease (HIV), neurological disorders, heart and/or liver disease and five other medical conditions. Those will join the eight pre-existing conditions that the governor previously announced as eligible.

Justice also announced all essential workers of all ages will be vaccinated.

“I’m announcing again that we are now expanding our list for pre-existing medical conditions to be eligible to receive the COVID vaccine. All adult West Virginians, over 16 years of age will be eligible,” Justice said. “We’re also going to begin vaccinating essential workers of all ages. We still encourage all West Virginians to pre-register through our system. But if you can’t and you’re having trouble and everything is getting worse, just call us and we’ll make it all become a reality.”

Sixteen years old is the youngest age authorized by the FDA for a vaccination with the Pfizer vaccine. Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines are authorized for 18 years of age and older.

“Consistent with what the governor suggested is that we continue to work to expand eligibility for our citizens with medical conditions,” said Clay Marsh, the state’s Coronavirus Czar and Vice President and Executive Dean for Health Sciences at West Virginia University.

“In addition, as the governor said, we will extend eligibility to all essential workers irrespective of age, given their frontline status and help make sure that we keep our businesses, hospitals and clinics open, keeping our utilities working and perform the other vital services and functions that are so important to West Virginia in schools and business,” Marsh said.

The changes are part of Phase 2-A in the state’s vaccination program, joining residents 50 or older and education sector personnel (teachers and school service personnel 40 years of age and older).

Justice encourages all West Virginians to pre-register through the system at www.vaccinate.wv.gov.

According to Justice, the state had 20 more additional COVID-related deaths since last Friday, making the total 2,531 deaths. While Justice said that it’s good seeing the number of deaths decline in the state, but also said that 20 more West Virginians lost their lives and that must be stopped.

“The number still is trending the right way, which is really good. But at the same time, it’s 20 great West Virginians that we’ve lost,” Justice said. “These families are hurting, their loved ones are hurting, and we’ve lost a ton more wisdom in the state of West Virginia. Your prayers for these great 20 West Virginians as well as all those in a grand total of 2,531 West Virginians are absolutely sorely needed and greatly appreciated.”

Overall, 635,801 doses of vaccine have been administered statewide and the state is at 12.2 percent of its total population being completely vaccinated.

The state has had 362,000 West Virginians signed up for vaccinations.

The daily positivity rates have been going down. There are currently 5,214 active cases in West Virginia. Justice said active cases have been going down 56 total days, he also said that cases did have a bump on Saturday to break the consecutive streak.

Justice also said some counties are lagging behind in getting residents signed up to receive the vaccine. The counties he mentioned were Lincoln, Ritchie, Wood, Mercer, Upshur, McDowell, Mineral, Jefferson, Wayne, Jackson, Clay, Gilmer, Calhoun, Hampshire, Berkeley, Morgan, Mingo and Mason.

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