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WVa to vaccinate 16 and over with medical conditions

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — West Virginians aged 16 and older with underlying medical conditions are now eligible for a coronavirus vaccine, along with all essential workers of any age, Gov. Jim Justice announced on Monday.

The list of eligible conditions include asthma, heart disease, high blood pressure, intellectual disabilities, autoimmune disorders and more. Pregnant residents are also eligible and the caretakers of those with some diseases.

All residents 50 and over have already been eligible for a vaccine. Last week, Justice said the state “will absolutely step up” to meet President Joe Biden’s goal that all Americans be eligible for vaccinations by May 1. He and other governors though stressed the need for supply to increase.

The state administered first shots to a record of over 51,000 people last week, according to a review of state data. Nearly 22% of residents are partially vaccinated, while 13.7% are fully inoculated against the virus that has killed 2,531 people in West Virginia.

Hospitalizations continued their decline to 151 patients from a peak of 818 in early January. As of Friday, only two long-term care centers had outbreaks among residents.

Justice has urged mask-wearing, as a statewide mandate remains in effect, even as capacity limits on businesses have been lifted.