CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Vaccinations, whether they be initial COVID vaccines, booster shots or flu shots, again took center stage at West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice’s virtual COVID-19 briefing, Tuesday.
Officials are seeing an increase in the percentage of hospitalized patients who are unvaccinated, currently sitting at 82%, while 85% of those on ventilators are also unvaccinated, Gov. Justice said.
This is due to more people getting booster shots, but not at a fast enough rate, Justice explained. “Those of you that are eligible for the booster shots, you need to do it and you need to do it right now,” he said. People (who were fully vaccinated more than six months ago, but haven’t gotten boosters)” are walking around as if they were never vaccinated,” said the governor.
Two vaccines aren’t enough to protect you from the Omicron variant, if you’re more than six months out from your last vaccination, Dr. Clay Marsh said, while Gov. Justice reported that a Pfizer booster shot provides a “25 fold increase in protection.”
Ret. Maj. Gen. Jim Hoyer also shared that data the state has shows that 17% of West Virginians “absolutely are not going to get vaccinated,” he said. “We don’t need mandates, we need good, clear advice from our federal government,” the governor said, while answering a question about what it will take to get a higher percentage of the state’s population vaccinated.
State health officials also expressed concern that only 17% of West Virginia’s population has gotten a flu vaccine, to this point, compared to 44% at this time last year.
Gov. Justice also promised that announcements will be made on Thursday related to spending the rest of the state’s CARES Act funding allotment, that needs to be spent before the end of the year.