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West Virginia first U.S. state to complete vaccinations at all nursing, assisted living facilities

Christian Fernsby |
During Friday’s briefing, Gov. Jim Justice announced that West Virginia has become the first state in the nation to complete its second round of COVID-19 vaccinations at all nursing homes and assisted living facilities statewide.

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Topics: WEST VIRGINIA    U.S.   

To-date, 17,763 residents and 19,836 staff members at each of West Virginia’s 214 long-term care facilities have chosen to be vaccinated.

“We know the percentage was overwhelming on the number that took it, and we’re already starting to see some positive impacts,” Gov. Justice said.

“The number of infections in our nursing homes and assisted living facilities have really decreased, we are down to 55 active outbreaks in our nursing homes and 18 active outbreaks in assisted living facilities, and we have cut the number of active outbreaks in nursing homes by 50 percent since the beginning of January – just in 29 days.

“It’s great work,” Gov. Justice continued. “A lot of people are really pulling the rope here.”

Additionally, Gov. Justice took time to address what he called “wrong information” circulating throughout West Virginia, which incorrectly claimed that all vaccinations for teachers, service personnel, and school employees were being stopped.

“I don’t really have any idea why or what would motivate someone to perpetuate these rumors,” Gov. Justice said. “If you don’t have your shot, and you’re wanting a shot, you can pre-register right now and you will be treated as essential. Being told that you can’t pre-register is ridiculous.”

Gov. Justice reiterated that all teachers, service personnel, and other school employees who are interested in being vaccinated, but who have not yet received the first dose, should register at vaccinate.wv.gov.

“If you’re 50 or older and you passed on getting the shot at first, but now you’ve changed your mind, or if you’re under 50 and you’re interested, I would tell you to go register,” Gov. Justice added. “Again, you have always been, and still are considered essential.”

The Governor went on to add that West Virginia’s new, online pre-registration system through Everbridge allows for those signing up to list their occupation and place of work.

West Virginia is the only state in the country to prioritize school employees as essential, moving them to elevated status to receive the vaccine.

While receiving the vaccine was not mandated for school employees to return to work, Gov. Justice made vaccinations available for the “super-prioritized” category of school teachers, service personnel, and other employees age 50 and older. Dozens of vaccination clinics, specifically for such school employees, were held in the month of January.

“As of 5 p.m. today, all school employees age 50 and above who had requested a vaccine during the first round will have received it,” Gov. Justice said Friday. “And let me be perfectly clear: all school employees who are scheduled for a second dose will absolutely get their second dose, and will receive them at the school where they received the first dose.”

COVID-19 Czar Dr. Clay Marsh explained that, after studying epidemiological data in West Virginia and across the nation, state health experts have found that, with the proper mitigation measures in place, the spread of COVID-19 in a classroom setting is “much lower” than transmission rates in the community.

“We believe that the classroom is actually a safe place to be at this point,” Dr. Marsh said. “The vaccines are an extra precaution, but not a requirement to get back in the classroom.”

“I’m so proud of the fact that, not only were we able to immunize all the teachers over 50 who decided that they wanted to take the vaccine, but that we immunized over 85,000 West Virginians who are over 65,” Dr. Marsh continued “Those are the groups that are dying and going to the hospital.”

“To all of our service personnel and to all of our teachers, I thank you for the job that you’re doing,” Gov. Justice said. “We can’t make it perfect, we know that. But we also know just how precious our children are, and just how incredibly behind that they’re getting.

“Everybody is doing every single thing that they can do to get our teachers and all West Virginians vaccinated,” Gov. Justice said.

“Don’t listen to the noise. All you’ve got to do is know that you’re still classified as essential. Absolutely, register as quickly as you possibly can if you have not. Know that, if you have been vaccinated, you will get the second dose right on time, and absolutely we will get to all of you as quickly as we can come up with the doses to be able to keep everything going and get to you as well.”


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