CHARLESTON, W. Va. (WDVM) — Coronavirus vaccines will be available to all West Virginia residents 70 years of age and older, West Virginia Governor Jim Justice announced during a press conference on Wednesday. This is a 10-year reduction in the previous minimum age, which was 80.
“We’re gonna drop our age from 80 to 70 … And absolutely as quickly as we know we’re going to have that significant amount of vaccines that are going to give us the ability to go to 65, we’re going to 65,” said Gov. Justice, referring to the CDC recommendation to administer vaccines to the 65+ population.
The decision to decrease the required age was seemingly spur-of-the-moment and shocked even public health officials, who learned the information at the same time as the public.
“The only thing that would change for us is that we knew there’s going to be a larger population that’s going to be coming out for the event,” said Bill Kearns, executive director of the Berkely-Morgan County Board of Health. “We’re limited with the amount of vaccine that we do have on hand.”
The state of West Virginia is leading the country in vaccine administration. A shipment of nearly 35,000 doses came in on Tuesday, an event that likely inspired Gov. Justice to expand vaccine eligibility.
Still, it is expected that, at least in Berkeley County, there won’t be enough vaccine doses to fulfill the demand. But the health officials are determined to give out as many vaccines as they can, and are excited about West Virginia’s status as a leader in the country.
“I think it’s great. I think everybody that’s in the appropriate age group that this vaccine has been manufactured for should get this vaccine. And I love the fact that West Virginia is lowering the age group. And I love the fact that we’re getting those shots in arms,” said Kearns.
Anyone interested in getting the shot only needs to bring in a valid West Virginia I.D. that confirms they are 70 years old or older.
There will be a vaccination clinic available exclusively to West Virginia residents on Thursday, Jan. 14 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the Berkeley 2000 Recreation Center. Vaccines will be given on a first-come, first-serve basis.
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