HARPERS FERRY, W.Va. (WDVM) — West Virginia has one of the nation’s highest rates for COVID-19 infections and is among the nation’s lowest rate for vaccinations. Despite this, some leaders in the state legislature are adamant about keeping vaccine mandates out of the state.
Most states require vaccinations for polio, chicken pox, small pox and hepatitis B. Is it time to rethink policy on COVID-19?
West Virginia Governor Jim Justice is quite the cheerleader for getting vaccinated. He’s got a cute “Do it for Babydog” campaign and a lottery to win a fishing boat, guns or 10 years of gas in your tank. He is opposed to a government mandate for vaccinations, a view shared by a senior Republican in the State Senate, calling on constituents to rally against any mandate this weekend.
“I do believe folks should be allowed to make this decision as to what risk they want to take and what medical decisions they are going to make for themselves,” Senator Patricia Rucker said.
How do those in her Jefferson County district feel about this? Adriana Delgado is a school teacher on an exchange program from Columbia, South America. Not get the vaccine, she asks? In her culture, there is desperation to get protection from the virus.
“I have friends from Ecuador and Bolivia, and they cannot get vaccinated. Most of the people [I know] are flying to the United States to get vaccinated,” said Delgado.
Senator Rucker acknowledges there are indeed consequences to protecting one’s absolute right to refuse a vaccination.
“I do think there’s going to be a crisis especially in our health care field because there are so many health care workers who are not wanting to be forced to get this, and that’s something we really can’t risk because that could affect all of our health,” Rucker said.
As for incentivizing vaccines, some question the governor’s $1 million lottery prize for getting a shot when $100 given to 10,000 families might be more effective.
Senator Rucker hopes the weekend rally will send the message to Governor Justice: stand firm in opposing vaccination mandates. She and Berkeley County Delegate Charles Horst of Berkeley County are sponsoring that rally Saturday at noon in Martinsburg at the corner of King and Queen Streets downtown to oppose and vaccination mandate.