West Virginia develops plan for COVID-19 vaccinations

CHARLESTON — The state of West Virginia has completed its COVID-19 vaccine action plan as required by the Centers for Disease Control.

The plan describes how the state will inoculate residents after a vaccine is approved by the federal government.

“I think we’ll move faster than what most people will give us credit for,” Gov. Jim Justice said during the state’s COVID-19 update on Friday.

Numerous groups and interests in West Virginia participated in the creation of the plan, including doctors, health care providers and first-line responders, Bill Crouch, secretary of the Department of Health and Human Resources, said. The Herbert Henderson Office of Minority Affairs also participated, he said.

“This was a broad group of individuals,” Crouch said.

Action plans will include how states would establish distribution centers. The National Guard is part of the plan, the governor said.

Initial priority would be given to people on the front lines of the fight against the pandemic, such as doctors, hospital workers and emergency responders, according to state Health Officer Anne Amjad and Dr. Clay Marsh, who heads the state’s COVID-19 response.

After the initial inoculations, the vaccine will be available to the general public, Marsh said.

“I think you’re going to see it done in phases,” he said.

However, the big question is when the vaccine will be developed and determined safe and effective for use, state officials said. While it’s unlikely a vaccine will be ready by the end of the year, it’s more likely a vaccine may be ready by the end of February, Justice said.

In other discussion, the increase of nearly 500 positive test results from Thursday to Friday is from additional testing and electronic reporting of results this week, Crouch said.

It’s a good thing as more testing, along with social distancing and wearing masks, according to the governor. The more people who are tested, the greater chance of finding people who are asymptomatic, but are spreaders of the virus, Justice said.

Justice also said this will be among the best years for fall colors in West Virginia. He encouraged residents and visitors to take advantage of the leaves turning color.

“The colors are spectacular,” Justice said.

Contact Jess Mancini at jmancini@newsandsentinel.com.


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