CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) – Although COVID-19 numbers continue to rise in the Mountain State, now with a total of more than 175,000 cases throughout the pandemic and hospitalizations rising above 400 for the first time since early February, state health officials say there is some good news after the state reached a new vaccination milestone.
The West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources says 70.1% of eligible residents now had at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.
Along with this, 57.5% of eligible West Virginians are fully vaccinated. For those 65 and older, that number is at 90.2% who have had one dose and 79.7% fully vaccinated.
During his semi-daily press briefing today, Wednesday, Aug. 18, West Virginia Governor Jim Justice and his COVID-19 response team said they were glad to see the state reach this milestone.
However, Maj. Gen. James Hoyer (Ret.), director of the Joint Inter-Agency Task Force, says only half of those who are eligible for the vaccine between the ages of 18 and 29 have begun the vaccination process.
“That is nowhere near where we need to be,” Hoyer said. “West Virginia, we need to step up and get vaccinated not for ourselves, but for the greater good of the state of West Virginia so that we can weather this storm and go on and achieve our full potential.”
To create a focus on vaccinating the younger population, Justice also said a new vaccination campaign is in the works after the “Do it for Babydog” vaccine lottery wrapped up last week. He said the new campaign, which will still feature Babydog, will focus on the younger eligible population.
“We’re gonna go back out on the road and give a bunch more stuff away and try to incentivize and talk to our kids and try to someway, somehow get more and more across the finish line,” Justice said.
More details on this program will be announced on Friday, the governor says.
Health officials across the state are urging West Virginians to get vaccinated against COVID-19. The Kanawha-Charleston Health Department has even added an additional community drive-thru COVID-19 testing and vaccination clinic this Saturday, Aug. 21 after the CDC listed Kanawha County as red on its Data Tracker Map for COVID-19.
Only four of West Virginia’s 55 counties are not listed as high risk by the CDC, those include Greenbrier and Braxton counties, which are at substantial risk, and Wirt and Pendleton counties, which have a moderate risk.
Those 12 years and older are eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine. for more information on the vaccine or to find a vaccine site near you, visit vaccinate.wv.gov or call 1-833-734-0965.