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Justice announces arrival of omicron variant boosters

Governor Jim Justice announced the arrival of COVID-19 omicron variant boosters to the state after the CDC announced approval of the shot for those ages 12 and older.

The governor said administration of the shots will begin immediately and will follow the same guidelines as in the past.

The first available doses, which Gen. James Hoyer said began arriving in the state Thursday, will be open to those ages 65 and older or those in long term care facilities. Availability will then expand to younger members of the population.

Hoyer said the initial allocation to the state was just under 50,000 doses and they are anticipating an influx of potentially 100,000 doses over the next week to 10 days, so there should not have any shortages of vaccines.

The newly approved booster is focused on both the original Wuhan variant as well as the most recent sub variants of the virus, Hoyer said, adding that 90% of the cases in the U.S. — and nearly 90% of those in the state — are from the variants.

In order to receive the booster you will have to have had the primary series of vaccines – meaning the first two doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines or the single dose of the Novavax.

You will be able to receive the booster two months after the primary series or two months after your most recent booster.

Hoyer also announced during the briefing that 313 West Virginians have received their first dose of vaccine since the last two reporting periods and hospital numbers have fallen below 300 at 282, which he said was a positive sign heading into Labor Day weekend.

Lower hospitalizations may take some pressure off of healthcare workers for potential surges over the holiday, he said.

In addition to the vaccine announcement, Justice said he was rescinding the executive order requiring unvaccinated healthcare workers to be tested at least twice per week, saying the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services now have more complete and updated guidelines that the state will be following. 

Justice also announced 20 additional deaths in the state, bringing the total number of West Virginians lost to 7,294.

Hoyer said Friday that he was aware of some website issues that may be making it difficult to find vaccine locations. 

If you are having trouble accessing COVID vaccine information, any questions can be answered by the hotline at 1-833-734-0965 or  Information can also be found through the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources and local health departments.