(The Center Square) – West Virginia is preparing to distribute a COVID-19 vaccine “very quickly” when it becomes available, Gov. Jim Justice said Friday.
Justice’s statement came after pharmaceutical company Pfizer announced it is seeking emergency authorization for its COVID-19 vaccine from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The vaccine has shown more than a 94% success rate in its trials.
“Our Vaccine Advisory Council has been working on this since August, the National Guard has been heading this up, doing incredible work led by General Hoyer and his people,” Justice said in his statement. “As soon as this vaccine is available, we will absolutely be ready to distribute it in West Virginia.”
Moderna, a biotech company, also is working on a vaccine that appears to be 94.5% effective at this stage, according to preliminary data from an ongoing study.
West Virginia submitted its COVID-19 vaccination plan to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last month.
“The vaccine plan that we submitted to the CDC is ready to be implemented the very second we receive doses of the vaccine in our state,” Justice said. “The most vulnerable will be vaccinated first. But, until that vaccine is in our hands, what is our best defense? It is, without question, to wear our masks and keep our distance.”
West Virginia had a record-setting week for COVID-19 testing, the governor said. In the past seven days, the state conducted 91,237 tests. The state also launched an interactive map that shows locations for free COVID-19 tests.
“This map will provide real-time access to all available testing sites,” Justice said. “I encourage all West Virginians to use this resource to find a location for yourself and for your loved ones to get tested.”
Testing sites can be filtered by type, including daily testing events, recurring testing events and pharmacy testing locations.
COVID-19 cases throughout the state and across the country have been increasing. To combat this, Justice issued an executive order that requires most people to wear face masks when inside indoor public places, even if they are observing social distancing guidelines. Businesses are required to enforce the order on patrons.