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West Virginia May See 15K More COVID-19 Vaccine Doses Next Week If Johnson & Johnson Shot Green-Lighted

Photo Courtesy of W.Va. Governor’s Office Gov. Jim Justice makes a point Friday about being ahead of the time schedules to vaccinate residents 65 and older. The state could receive as many 15,500 more doses if the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is approved by federal regulators.

CHARLESTON — As many as 15,500 additional doses of coronavirus vaccine may come to West Virginia next week if the Food and Drug Administration gives emergency approval of the Johnson & Johnson product, state officials said Friday.

West Virginia also gave notice Friday to add independent pharmacies where the vaccines can be obtained in the federal pharmacy program, said James Hoyer, the head of the state joint interagency task force on the COVID-19 vaccines. The inclusion of independent pharmacies will aid in getting more vaccines into people through the community-based approach, he said.

More than 42 percent of residents 65 and older have received at least one dose of the vaccine, Hoyer said.

“We will continue to focus those doses, as the governor has said, on those populations that we know are the most vulnerable,” Hoyer said.

The vaccine advisory panel of the Food and Drug Administration met Friday to review the vaccine made by Johnson & Johnson. Authorization for emergency use by the Food and Drug Administration of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine is possible immediately after the endorsement by the advisory panel.

The one-shot vaccine would be the third to go with the two-shot Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. The latter two require storage in super-cold conditions.

West Virginia’s distribution efforts have been commended around the country. Getting those vaccines into people is a prime reason why the number of deaths have decreased, Hoyer said.

About 60,000 dosages a week could be available with the Johnson and Johnson approval, Gov. Jim Justice said.

Of the nearly 161,000 people 65 and older, a focus of the vaccination program, who have received shots, around 90,000 have received their second shots, Justice said.

They believed they wouldn’t receive inoculations until the end of March or the first of April, according to Justice.

Residents can pre-register for a vaccination at vaccinate.wv.gov.

“If you haven’t gotten your vaccine, you got to do it. That’s all there is to it,” the governor said.

Justice appeared at the briefing casually dressed in his jacket worn at a ceremony commemorating the 49th anniversary of the Buffalo Creek flood when an impoundment dam failed, sending millions of gallons of coal slurry downstream, killing 125 people.

Justice also participated in the first spring trout stocking of the year in Logan County. The state will stock 1.2 million fish across the state and this year added fingerling rainbow trout stockings, too.

“That will ensure that our streams will be fishable … year round,” he said.

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