CHARLESTON, W.Va. – During Wednesday’s briefing, Gov. Justice announced that, with the U.S. FDA and CDC expected to authorize use of the COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 12-15 within the next week, officials in charge of West Virginia’s vaccine distribution efforts are ready to hold vaccination clinics at schools in all 55 counties across the state as soon as this approval takes place.
“They’ll have to have the permission of their guardians,” Gov. Justice said. “At these clinics, we will also offer vaccines to all eligible West Virginians, including any other students, parents, and educators.”
The West Virginia Department of Education estimates that there are 78,000 students ages 12-15 who are eligible for the vaccine in the state’s K-12 schools.
“In the last month, we’ve held focus groups with teachers, parents, and students,” West Virginia State Superintendent of Schools Clayton Burch said. “The interesting thing we’ve been able to talk about in these student roundtables is: ‘What does the future look like?’ And it all came back to vaccinations. Each one of the students talked about the role that vaccinations will play in the future of school.
“There’s one young man out there that I think had one of the best taglines for all of his underclassmen friends,” Superintendent Burch continued. “This young man was a senior this year and he said, ‘Listen, Superintendent Burch, I’ll make it very, very simple. I would tell all of my friends and peers in high school, if you don’t want your senior year next year to suck, get a vaccination. Just do it.’ He sent a very poignant message that even our young people are talking about the power of what these vaccinations can do for them. It didn’t matter whether they were AP students, career technical education students, or students that might be in the JROTC; they all have the same message. The vaccines are the only way they see forward to get back to some normalcy and to protect themselves and their families”
NEARLY 1,000 ADDITIONAL WEST VIRGINIANS REQUEST VACCINE AFTER OUTREACH EFFORT
Gov. Justice also announced that, yesterday, all individuals registered in the West Virginia COVID-19 Vaccine Registration System were sent a message encouraging them to call the COVID-19 Vaccine Info Line (1-833-734-0965) to schedule a vaccination if they or a family member have not already done so.
As a result of this outreach effort, 973 West Virginians have called the info line to request a vaccine.
“Think about it, we went back to all those folks that had registered and asked if they had family members, or maybe if even they themselves had not scheduled their appointment, and we had 973 people call in to request the vaccine,” Gov. Justice said. “So that was very successful and that’ll help us a bunch.”
STATE, BROADCASTERS ASSOCIATION TEAM UP TO ENCOURAGE VACCINATIONS
Additionally Wednesday, Gov. Justice announced that the State of West Virginia is supporting the West Virginia Broadcasters Association’s efforts to encourage more residents to get vaccinated.
“They reached out to us and wanted to be as supportive as possible with our vaccine efforts,” Gov. Justice said. “I want to thank them, more than they will know, for stepping up and really helping, with all their media organizations, encouraging vaccinations to our kids and to our young people 16 to 35 years of age.”
The WVBA is running vaccination messages on all their members’ TV and radio stations and are personalizing these messages by using talent within their communities to spread the message of the safety and effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccines.
“This is what it takes. It takes all of us pulling the rope together,” Gov. Justice said. “If we can get more people vaccinated, not only are we going to shut this pandemic down, not only are we going to be able to get rid of the masks so much sooner, but we’re going to save a bunch of lives.”