West Virginia governor warns residents against relying on herd immunity, urges them to get vaccinated

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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WDVM) — With about 45% of West Virginia’s age 16 and older population having received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, Governor Jim Justice attempted to get ahead of what could soon be a major problem: vaccine hesitancy.

Courtesy: West Virginia Department of Health & Human Resources COVID-19 Dashboard.

Despite the state being one of the fastest vaccinators around the beginning of 2021, West Virginia’s administration has slowed down. The above graph shows the number of shots given per day in the state trending downwards, with fewer vaccines getting into arms every week and the Friday peaks getting smaller.

During a press conference on Monday, Gov. Justice warned the residents of the state against getting complacent and relying on herd immunity for protection.

“You may be sitting there thinking, ‘well, you know, now that there’s been a bunch of people get vaccinated, I can slide by and just not get vaccinated’ … What a chance you’re taking. Oh, what an incredible, incredible chance you’re taking,” said Justice.

The governor particularly stressed the troubling presence of the COVID-19 variants that are circulating in the united states. Recently it was discovered that the U.K. variant — which has proven to be more infectious than the novel virus — is the dominant strain in America.

“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,” said Dr. Clay Marsh, West Virginia’s COVID-19 czar.

For now, there isn’t evidence that any of the currently-known variants render the vaccines useless, but the more people who get infected with the virus, the more chances there are for an even worse mutation to develop.

“Dropping your guard is only going to lead to more and more and more troubles,” said Justice. “We’re all tired. But please, please go get vaccinated.”

Every West Virginia resident age 16 and older is eligible to sign up for a vaccine in the state.

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