By Cuneyt Dil, Associated Press
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice said Friday the state is planning a “real aggressive program” to revive its sluggish vaccination campaign.READ MORE: West Virginia Governor Jim Justice Makes Plea For More COVID-19 Shots In Arms
“We have hit a wall,” the Republican governor said. State data show nearly 39% of the population has received at least one dose.
Officials said they will target people who are either reluctant to get a shot or haven’t found a convenient enough chance yet.
In Charleston, the state will partner with local businesses downtown to make vaccines available to all employees and customers, said James Hoyer, a retired major general leading the state’s coronavirus task force.
Justice said more steps would be announced in the coming days to try to turn around a vaccination drive that briefly led the nation early in the year. He said that will include outreach to people who are “stubborn or fearful” about being vaccinated.
“Now it’s time for West Virginia to move again,” he said.READ MORE: Gov. Jim Justice Says West Virginia Vaccinations Slow Down As Fewer Step Forward
Justice also said the state has asked the federal government to deliver future vaccine doses in smaller vials. The move is in reaction to demand slipping and an attempt to avoid wasted doses once the vials are opened.
“We need the smaller vials because once we open them up they only last for a few hours,” Justice said.
The governor debuted a new slogan this week after a reporter at his news conference claimed 40% of the state’s residents may not want a vaccine. That would amount to about 588,000 people out of all residents ages 16 and over who are eligible for a vaccine right now.
“Our goal is to beat 588,” Justice says, which would require around at least 200,000 more people getting vaccinated. Currently, 47.1% of eligible residents have received at least one dose, according to state data.
Justice earlier this week said the statewide mask mandate may stay in place until 70% of eligible residents are vaccinated.
Among residents 65 and over, more than 77% have at least one dose, Justice said.MORE NEWS: West Virginia Lifts Social Gathering Limit, Allows Maskless Exercising
(Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)