Gov. Justice, medical experts urge boosters to maximize protection for those initially vaccinated months ago

CHARLESTON — During Wednesday’s briefing, Gov. Jim Justice and medical experts once again stressed the importance of booster shots of the COVID-19 vaccine for West Virginians who were initially vaccinated several months ago.

“I keep going back to what we said on Monday. If you’ve gotten two shots, and you’re six months out from when you got your last shot, it’s almost of no value. Your immunity level has dropped way, way, way down,” Gov. Justice said. “So we need folks to get their booster shot.”

State Coronavirus Czar Dr. Clay Marsh once again noted the substantial gap between the number of West Virginians who have only received their initial series of COVID-19 vaccination shots versus those who have more recently received a booster shot.

“When we look at our highest vulnerable group—West Virginians over 50 years old; which account for 97% of our deaths—we see that there are about 550,000 that are fully vaccinated, yet we’ve only given out about 48,000 boosters,” Dr. Marsh said. “We know that boosting is critically important for us to have current immune status, not only for protection against death or hospitalization, which is really important, but to stop COVID from spreading so that we can get back to our normal lives.

“Given the criteria that the CDC has released, we believe that every West Virginian who wants a vaccine booster is eligible to get one,” Dr. Marsh added.

There are now booster recommendations for all three available COVID-19 vaccines in the United States. 

Per the latest CDC recommendations, individuals who received either the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine are eligible for a booster shot if it has been at least six months since they completed their initial series of shots and they fall into at least one of the following groups:

65 years and older

Age 18+ who live in long-term care settings

Age 18+ who work or live in high-risk settings

Age 18+ who have underlying medical conditions

For individuals who received the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine, booster shots are also recommended for those who are 18 and older and who were vaccinated two or more months ago.

Per the CDC, eligible individuals now may choose which vaccine they receive as a booster dose. Some people may have a preference for the vaccine type that they originally received, and others may prefer to get a different booster. CDC’s recommendations now allow for this type of mix and match dosing for booster shots.

If you are eligible for the booster shot, you can go to any location offering COVID-19 vaccines with your vaccination card to receive the booster. If your card has been lost, you can request a new one from the DHHR.