‘Listen to the experts’: Health officials urge West Virginians to get vaccinated

Coronavirus in West Virginia

A 3-D rendering of the coronavirus (Getty Images).

CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) – West Virginia Governor Jim Justice and his coronavirus response team are urging West Virginians to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

The governor says he is specifically concerned about younger West Virginians from ages 16-35 getting the vaccine. West Virginia Coronavirus Czar Dr. Clay Marsh says, recently, a larger percentage of virus spread has been in found in the age groups of 10-19 and 20-29. As of Monday morning, both of those age groups continue to have the highest numbers of new cases over a seven-day period with 523 and 448 new cases, respectively.

Marsh says the state is currently reporting 168 cases of the California variant, 194 cases of the U.K. variant and one case of the South African variant. The case of the South African variant was reported Friday in Berkeley County. On Friday, Justice shared his concerns over the South African variant’s appearance in the state, saying it was twice as transmissible and twice as deadly. According to the CDC, the U.K. variant, which also more transmissible and more infectious among younger people, is now the most common strain found in the U.S.

Marsh urged West Virginians to continue taking precautions against the virus such as wearing masks and social distancing to help combat the spread of these variants. The governor stressed that health experts across the country have deemed the vaccines safe, and encouraged West Virginians to listen to their advice and get the shot.

“As we look at the variant viruses, we know these viruses can infect much more easily, as the governor said, including children, so children aren’t protected from the spread of these variants,” Marsh said. “But also, I think people are getting lax about wearing face coverings and staying distanced.”

Marsh says while more cases are appearing among high school-aged students in school organizations, data shows classrooms themselves remain safe.

Health officials say the state has administered a total of 1,096,787 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine with 461,008 West Virginians who have been fully vaccinated against the virus. 661,687 people in the state have received at least their first dose of the vaccine. West Virginians can still pre-register for a COVID-19 vaccine at vaccinate.wv.gov.

According to the governor, 256,818 West Virginians ages 65 and older have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. He says of those, 216,338 have been fully vaccinated. The governor’s goal is to get at least 85% of the state’s 65 and older population vaccinated as part of the Save Our Wisdom program. As of Monday, Justice says they are currently at 75% for that age group.

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