With the National Public Health Emergency set to end on May 11, Ret. Maj. Gen. Jim Hoyer, director of the Joint Interagency COVID-19 task force, encouraged West Virginians to stay up to date on their vaccinations.
This week, the FDA is expected to authorize a recommendation of an additional shot for those who are immunocompromised as well as those over the age of 65.
“We know that the COVID vaccine is the best opportunity for you to stay healthy, avoid the implications of COVID as well as long COVID,” Hoyer said. “Regardless of age, go out and get that shot. But importantly, those over the age of 65 and immunocompromised standby for changes that are coming for that next shot recommendation.”
There have been 11 deaths reported since last week’s update, with a total of 8,094 deaths attributed to COVID-19 in West Virginia.
“We have received a number of additional questions lately regarding any availability of free COVID testing,” Hoyer said. “I want to start out by reminding folks that they can go to vaccinatewv.gov and click on free testing that tab at the top and it will provide an interactive map and the opportunity for sites that may be available for free testing.”
Hoyer also noted the recent third anniversary of the governor’s April 17, 2020, executive order to test all nursing home residents for COVID-19, paving the way for their vaccinations as well.
“We set the trend nationally to better protect those in our congregate care settings,” Hoyer said. “This also led to, later on, for us to be the first state in the nation to fully vaccinate all those in congregate care settings such as assisted living, and nursing home facilities. It was truly an effort that was designed to make sure that we took care of the most vulnerable population in our state.”
Hoyer said all West Virginians, regardless of age, should continue to stay updated on their shots via the state’s vaccination calculator to stay healthy and avoid hospitalization and long COVID.