Moving backward in vaccine race
For much of the past two months, West Virginia has been the nation’s gold standard on how to administer the COVID-19 vaccine. West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice became a regular on front pages and national news shows discussing the state’s get-it-done vaccine attitude that allowed West Virginia, along with Alaska, to be tops in the nation in getting people vaccinated.
But times can quickly change during this COVID era, and when it comes to the percentage of the population vaccinated, and how quickly states are getting their supply of shots into arms, West Virginia is dropping down the list.
What’s interesting in looking at the numbers is not that West Virginia in general is doing any better or worse of a job than has been done since the vaccine’s debut in early December; instead, it’s that other states are quickly catching up and moving ahead.
According to statistics from Bloomberg’s COVID-19 vaccine tracker, West Virginia is tied with Hawaii for fourth overall among the states in the percentage of the population fully vaccinated at 13.3%. That trails only Alaska (16.7%), New Mexico (15.1%), and South Dakota (13.5%).
But when it comes to the percentage of the population that has received at minimum one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, West Virginia falls toward the middle of the pack at 18th among the states.
According to Bloomberg’s data, which is compiled through statistics provided by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 21.2% of all West Virginians have received at least one COVID-19 shot. New Mexico leads the nation with 26.9% of all residents having at least some protection from COVID-19.
West Virginia, according to Bloomberg, has used 80.4% of the vaccine supply allocated, 12th in the nation. Several states that had a slow vaccine rollout — Connecticut is a good example — are now ahead of West Virginia in the percentage of the vaccine supply used. New Mexico has the highest usage rate in the nation at 87%.
So what does this mean?
We know that even the first dose of the vaccine provides enhanced protection against COVID-19. West Virginia continues to do a very good job in getting residents fully vaccinated, and getting the elderly protected, but with only about 10,000 shots being administered each day statewide, the pace needs to increase. That can happen by focusing on educating those who remain wary of the vaccine, getting first shots into arms and continuing to expand the network of providers and clinics to hold mass vaccinations.
West Virginia has been at the lead of the vaccine rollout since day one; now, other states that initially did a poor job administering their programs are quickly catching up. Justice and others in his administration need to ensure that West Virginia continues to vaccinate residents. The state is not always at the top of national rankings, but we were just a few weeks ago. West Virginia needs to get back to the top in percentage of received vaccines distributed.