MORGANTOWN – Gov. Jim Justice elaborated a bit on Monday on his plan to make COVID vaccinations more accessible.
They’ll take clinics to fixed sites and mobile sites in high-traffic areas, he said. Those will include such places as fairs, festivals, church parking lots, sports events, parks, bars and restaurants, malls and shopping centers, and to community and civics and business organizations.
They’ll accompany homes visits by Meals on Wheels, senior services and home health agencies. At hospitals they’ll vaccinate patients on discharge. They’ll open up availability to doctors’ offices and clinics.
They want to encourage businesses to offer vaccine-related discount incentives.
“It may even come down to this, that we’re going door to door,” he said. “If we have to go door to door we’ll go door to door.”
Justice and COVID-19 Czar Clay Marsh both said vaccinations can help stop the transmission of the virus. The Dominion Post asked about that because it had been previously said that a person who is vaccinated can still carry the virus and spread it.
Marsh said there is more and more evidence accumulating that once you are fully vaccinated – which is two weeks after your final dose of Pfizer or Moderna or after your single Johnson & Johnson shot – that they’re not only are you immune, but extremely unlikely to spread to other people. “Which is an added benefit.”
Justice, Marsh and Joint Interagency Task Force Director James Hoyer all continued their push for those ages 16-35 to get vaccinated. “Please step up get, vaccinated. Let’s get back to normal,” Hoyer said.
Marsh offered reasons for younger residents to get vaccinated. You’re protected from COVID and its significant side effects. If you’re vaccinated and exposed to someone, there’s no need to quarantine. “We also know that you can live a regular life,” he said.
In the past four days, West Virginia has seen the UK variant grow from 654 to 930 cases, he said. The vaccine reduces severe infection, hospitalization and death. Of 598,566 residents fully vaccinated, only three have died of COVID.
By way of announcements, Department of Health and Human Resources Secretary Bill Crouch said fully vaccinated staff at nursing homes and assisted living facilities no longer have to be tested twice a week. Those who aren’t will still have to.
Justice said that the child care subsidy for essential workers has been extended to all workers of any income level.
Justice fielded a question on the status of offering $100 savings bonds to residents age 16-35 who get vaccinated. The logistics have been a challenge, he said.
“I wanted to have some kind of patriotic flavor to it,” he said. It may be that they issue a loaded card to swipe, and the card may be some kind of patriotic keepsake card, and maybe a silver dollar with it.
The advantage of issuing a card is the money would quickly return into the economy, he said. The disadvantage would be finding 200,000 silver dollars. They don’t have an actual program yet, but they’re close.
Justice and Marsh also fielded a question on how he would respond to those vaccine holdouts who won’t do it because they don’t trust the government, or because they think the vaccine was rushed to the market and its long-term effects aren’t known.
He said, “Buckle up, ’cause a bunch of you are going to die.”
Marsh reiterated the safety of the vaccine. This type of vaccine – using synthetic messenger RNA instead of the virus itself – has been in development for 10 years, not just overnight.
More than 1.16 billion doses have been given, he said. And the FDA paused the J&J vaccines when just six people out of 7 million recipients developed blood clots. “The federal agencies have been incredibly, incredibly cautious.”
And the down side of not getting vaccinated can be seen in India, he said. Only 2% of the population has been vaccinated, they’ve seen more than 1 million new cases in just over two days and the crematoriums can’t keep up with the demand.
“This the way we stop the transmission of COVID-19,” he said, and it’s a way to stop the spread of the variants.