CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) – West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice says he believes most West Virginians who want to be vaccinated for COVID-19 will be able to do so by mid-March.
Justice and Maj. Gen. James Hoyer says the timeline is still fluid, and the current target date for vaccine distribution is Dec. 15, pending approval from the FDA.
Hoyer says the joint-interagency task force for distribution is up and running. He says at this time, the initial shipment will include approximately 16,000 to 20,000 vaccines, and then additional shipments on a regular basis.
Because the initial shipments will be a limited supply, vaccines will be distributed in phases based on risk, the governor said. Phase 1 will focus on vaccinating healthcare workers, long-term care facility residents and staff, community infrastructure and emergency response, public health officials and first responders.
Justice says he will continue to provide updates on the vaccine and will announce additional phases once the information and vaccines become available.
The governor urged West Virginians to consider taking the vaccine once it becomes available, saying health experts have proven they are safe and will prevent people from contracting the virus.
“You cannot get COVID from taking the vaccine. The vaccine has been proven safe by thousands, tens of thousands, and lots of work from our FDA,” Justice said. “I’ll take mine right in front of everybody if that will help you.”
Once the vaccine becomes more widely available in the state, the plan is to scale the state to approximately 250 administration sites throughout West Virginia. Justice says both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines require two doses, with 21 days between doses for Pfizer and 28 days between doses for Moderna. He says the two vaccines will not be interchangeable, meaning if you take the Pfizer vaccine for the first dose, the second must also be Pfizer.
Justice says until the vaccine is widely distributed in the Mountain State, the best defense against the virus is to follow health guidelines and wear masks.