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Where is West Virginia on COVID-19 vaccinations?


CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) – Today, Tuesday, December 14, it’s been a year since COVID-19 vaccines became available in Mountain State.

Since then, 63.8% of eligible West Virginia ages 5 and older have now received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, 53.4% ​​are fully vaccinated and 30.5% have received a reminder. The West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources reports that a total of 2,265,389 doses of the vaccine have been administered to residents of West Virginia.

According to DHHR, Kanawha County administered the most doses with 123,370 doses of the vaccine. Statewide, 41,152 doses of a first dose, second dose or booster were given in the past seven days.

To mark the anniversary of the vaccine’s availability, health experts statewide shared an open letter urging more West Virginia to get vaccinated against COVID-19 and receive their boosters for additional protection against variants such as Delta and Omicron.

“With the strictest safety oversight of any vaccine in US history and a year of evidence and experience, we remain confident in the safety and effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccination,” American Academy of Pediatrics West Virginia Chapter President Lisa M. Costello, MD, MPH said.

Health officials wrote the letter because of what they called a “troubling challenge” – the state’s overall low vaccination rate combined with COVID-19 variants are causing hospitalizations to rise and deaths as well as overwhelming health systems.

“Immunization is our most powerful tool to protect ourselves, ourselves, our communities and our health systems,” Costello said. “With this letter, we hope to remind West Virginia that the pandemic continues to have serious implications for all of our lives, and that the best way to reduce the consequences of COVID-19 is for everyone to choose vaccination,” Costello continued.

More than 30 West Virginia health and public health leaders and organizations signed the letter, which said, “It is devastating to see people suffering from what is now a vaccine-preventable disease. Yet, just as we were a year ago, we remain hopeful. We now know more than ever that the COVID-19 vaccine is our key to protecting ourselves and ending this pandemic, only if we all choose it. West Virginia, protect yourself and others from COVID-19. Please get vaccinated and boosted.

Below is a full copy of the letter:

A year ago, we wrote to you when the first COVID-19 vaccine was on its way to our Mountain State. Authorizing a safe and effective vaccine has been an important career milestone, bringing hope and relief during this life-changing pandemic.
A year later, we have seen hundreds of thousands of West Virgins choose the COVID-19 vaccination, alongside millions in the United States and billions around the world. For more than a year, COVID19 vaccines have undergone the most rigorous safety screening of any vaccine in US history. Scientific and medical evidence continues to support that vaccination is safe and highly effective in reducing the risk of hospitalization and death from COVID-19.
We trust COVID-19 vaccines because we have followed the science, and we see the role vaccination plays in protecting us, our loved ones and our patients every day. Without a doubt, countless lives have been saved thanks to the COVID-19 vaccination. This is why we have chosen to be vaccinated and why we recommend it to our patients.
We have made progress towards improving public health in the face of an ever-evolving pandemic. However, we still have a pressing concern: West Virginia’s COVID-19 vaccination rates are among the lowest in the country, increasing our hospitalization rates from COVID-19.
When vaccination rates in a community are low, the virus that causes COVID-19 can more easily spread and turn into new strains. These are the “variants” you might hear about, like Delta or Omicron. New variants could be more contagious, cause more serious illness, or even develop in a way that allows it to overcome the vaccines that work so hard for us now. The spread of variants has contributed to the recent increase in hospitalizations and deaths in West Virginia.
We know that the overwhelming majority of people who are now hospitalized or who die from COVID-19 are not vaccinated. While no vaccine is 100% effective in preventing disease or disease complications, COVID-19 vaccines are our most powerful tool in protecting against serious illness and death.
If you have not yet chosen vaccination, please get vaccinated. West Virginia people aged 5 and over can now be protected from COVID-19. And if you were vaccinated more than 6 months ago with Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccines, or more than 2 months ago with a Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine, please recall. Boosters are an important step in maintaining maximum protection against the virus and its variants.
The vaccines are readily available at several locations in all 55 counties. You can learn more and find a location near you at vaccinate.wv.gov.
A year ago, we wrote to you about how we mourned with the families we have cared for and served, watching them battle serious illness and death from complications from COVID-19. Many of those who survived continue to show symptoms weeks and months later – what you may have heard called “long COVID.” The images and memories of these West Virgins – some of whom are our neighbors, colleagues, patients or loved ones – remain and will remain with us for the rest of our lives.
It is devastating to see people suffering from what is now a vaccine preventable disease. Yet, just as we were a year ago, we remain hopeful. We now know more than ever that the COVID-19 vaccine is our key to protecting ourselves and ending this pandemic, only if we all choose it. West Virginia, protect yourself and others from COVID-19. Thank you for getting vaccinated and boosted.

Letter from wv healthcare leaders

The following health officials, listed alphabetically, signed the letter: Sven T. Berg, MD, MPH – CEO, Quality Insights; Kenneth Canipe, PharmD, BCPS, BCCCP – President, West Virginia Society of Health System Pharmacists; Lisa M. Costello, MD, MPH, FAAP – President, West Virginia Chapter American Academy of Pediatrics; D. Scott Davis PT, MS, EdD – President, West Virginia Physical Therapy Association; VJ Davis, RS, MS – President, West Virginia Association of Local Health Departments; Laura Davisson, MD, MPH, FACP – Governor, West Virginia Section of the American College of Physicians; Shawn Eddy – President, West Virginia Health Care Association; Sherri P. Ferrell – CEO, WV Primary Care Association; Suzanne Gharib, MD – President, West Virginia Rheumatology Society; Melissa Jensen, MSPA, PA-C and Megan Ross, MPH, CHES – Co-Chairs, WV Immunization Network; Jim Kaufman – President and CEO, West Virginia Hospital Association;
Howard Lafferty, DO – President, West Virginia Academy of Family Physicians; Sharon L. Lansdale, RPh, MS -President / CEO, Center for Rural Health Development, Inc .; PS Martin, MD, FACEP, FAEMS – President, West Virginia Chapter of the National Association of EMS Physicians; Eleisha J. Nickoles, DDS – President, West Virginia Dental Association; L. Michael Peterson, DO, FACEP – President, West Virginia College of Emergency Physicians; Kara Piechowski, PharmD, BCPS, BC-ADM, CTTS – Director, Tobacco-Free Me WV; Michael Robie, DO – President, West Virginia Osteopathic Medical Association; Susan Russell, MSN, NE-BC, RN-BC – President, West Virginia Organization for Nursing Leadership; Gregory Schaefer, DO, FACS – President, WV Chapter of the American College of Surgeons; Angela D. Settle, DNP, APRN, BC, FNP – CEO, West Virginia Health Right, Inc .; Shafic A. Sraj, MD – President, West Virginia State Medical Association; Lauren WM Swager MD – Division Director, Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and WVU Medicine, Department of Behavioral Medicine and Psychiatry; Matt Walker – Director, West Virginia Independent Pharmacy Association; West Virginia Affiliate of the American College of Nurse-Midwives; West Virginia School Nurses Association; West Virginia Orthopedic Society; West Virginia Pharmacists Association; West Virginia Section of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists; West Virginia Society of Anesthesiologists; and Joyce Wilson, MSN, APRN, FNP-C – President, West Virginia Nurses Association.

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Rodney N.

The author Rodney N.