W.Va. Gov. Justice: ‘Practical Approach’ Leading to Vaccine Success

W.Va. Gov. Justice: 'Practical Approach' Leading to Vaccine Success jim justice speaks from lectern West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice (Chris Jackson/AP Photo)

By Sandy Fitzgerald | Thursday, 14 January 2021 01:51 PM

While many other states are having serious issues with distributing the COVID-19 vaccine, West Virginia has either administered or assigned every dose of the vaccine that has come in for a state resident, and Gov. Jim Justice said that's because the state used a more practical approach to protect its people.

"We are a smaller state but we lead the nation in lots of categories as we've gone through this terrible pandemic," the Republican governor said on Fox News' "Fox and Friends."

Instead of using the federal approach for distributing the vaccine, West Virginia enlisted the help of local pharmacies, the National Guard, and county health departments, said Justice.

"We looked at one thing and one thing alone, saving people's lives," said Justice. "The faster we do this, the more lives we save. We did not try to write systems or come up with stuff like other states did…It is not rocket science, but you have got to move and in a pandemic, you can't sit on your hands and try to work out a system and develop a committee. You've got to move."

According to data compiled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, West Virginia has one of the best per capita vaccination rates in the country. The state has vaccinated 8,982 people per 100,000 residents, as of midday Thursday, just behind South Dakota’s 9,990 vaccinations per 100,000 residents.

The first focus was on the state's elderly, who have the most difficulty with COVID-19, and after that, the state plans to "keep pumping 100% of the vaccines in arms and to keep pleading for more vaccines," said Justice.

He added that school personnel were also a focus, as schools will be reopening in West Virginia on Jan. 19.

And as calls come from the Centers for Disease Control to vaccinate all people over the age of 65, West Virginia will be well on the way toward that happening, said Justice.

"Everybody 65 and older will be completely vaccinated by Valentine's Day if they get us the vaccine," said Justice. "The $64 question is will they get us the vaccine to do that?"