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Government

Justice, Health Advisers Reveal More Plans For West Virginia’s Coronavirus Vaccine Rollouts

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STEVEN ROTSCH
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West Virginia’s coronavirus vaccine distribution plans are beginning to take shape. Gov. Jim Justice and his advisers offered more details of the plan Friday, including initial allocations of vaccines from two companies seeking emergency use authorization through the federal government.

Justice said Friday that West Virginia is expected to receive 60,000 doses of Pfizer’s vaccine in an initial allocation. The target date for arrival is Tuesday, Dec. 15 and there will be a weekly ordering cap of about 16,000 doses, according to the governor.

As for the Moderna vaccine, the state is expected to get about 26,000 doses in the initial allocation with a weekly ordering cap somewhere between 3,000 and 5,000 doses. Justice has said he expects the first shipment of the Moderna vaccine to arrive shortly after Pfizer’s.

Justice noted that the mid-December rollout date is merely an estimate, as both companies await approval from the Federal Drug Administration.

The vaccines from both companies will be offered in two doses. Pfizer’s booster shot will be given three weeks after the initial dose. Moderna’s second dose is spaced four weeks after the first.

“You cannot get COVID from taking the vaccine,” Justice said. “The vaccine has been proven over and over by thousands, tens of thousands, and lots of work from our FDA that it's safe. I'll take mine right in front of everybody, if that'll help.”

State health officials plan to follow guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention by distributing the first-available doses to health care workers, those working and residing in long-term care facilities and others critical to the community, including first responders, and public health officials.

“First and foremost, we've got to protect those that are running our critical health units,” Justice said. “I mean, if we lose the people that are running the show — the nurses the [doctors and] all the people that are running the show in our critical health units — we're in real trouble.”

Justice said he expects the vaccines to be available to the general population by spring. However, he said that he expects for the pandemic to continue to linger until summer, even as the number of vaccinations increase.

“From the standpoint of our general population and everything, you know, this will not be away until the middle of July,” he said of the pandemic, noting that he hopes nearly everyone in the state will become vaccinated by March.

The initial allocation of vaccines will be distributed to five hub locations with ultra-cold storage in Berkeley, Cabell, Greenbrier, Kanawha and Monongalia counties.

“Our plan is to eventually scale to an additional two additional hub locations in the state, with approximately 250 administration sites throughout West Virginia,” Justice said.

The governor delivered the news of the state’s vaccine plans after announcing additional deaths from the virus. As of Wednesday, the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources reported 799 deaths total attributed to the pandemic, with 10 deaths in the most 24-hour reporting period.

The state has so far recorded 52,172 cases of the virus. Of the total number of cases, more than a third — or 17,716 cases — are considered active.


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