West Virginia leaders expressed optimism about recent national developments for covid-19 vaccines, including progress with additional kinds of booster shots, mix-and-match vaccine options and vaccines for younger children.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration today authorized booster shots of Moderna vaccine for people 65 and older and for people at special risk of covid-19, as well as an extra shot of Johnson & Johnson vaccine for people 18 and older. Pfizer’s boosters had already been approved several weeks ago.
“This would be half the dose of the first two shots related to the booster for Moderna,” said Dr. Clay Marsh, West Virginia’s covid-19 response adviser.
Last week, an FDA advisory panel recommended authorizing booster doses of Moderna’s and Johnson & Johnson’s covid-19 vaccines, but authorization was still anticipated from the full agency.
And in short order, the FDA is expected to approve Pfizer or Moderna covid-19 booster shots for people as young as 40.
FDA also authorized people’s use of a different covid-19 vaccine than they originally received. That would not only give people more options for a booster but could also provide greater protection.
“It looks like it could be a combination shot with a Moderna or Pfizer vaccine or with another Johnson & Johnson vaccine,” Marsh said.
“It does appear that taking a second shot with a messenger RNA vaccine — Moderna probably greater than Pfizer — will give you more antibodies, at least at 13 days, than a second shot of Johnson & Johnson.”
Finally, FDA is anticipated to authorize the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for children 5 to 11 years old, possibly this month or early next month.
Gov. Jim Justice again today said he hopes younger West Virginia residents who are eligible will get seek out vaccination.
“I encourage our young people to get vaccinated, but at the same time we need the help of our parents and grandparents,” Justice said.
West Virginia statistics show 58 percent of state residents above age 12 are considered fully vaccinated.
The state today registered 8,469 active cases of covid-19, a number on the decline over recent weeks.
There were 714 covid-19 patients listed in the hospital today. Of those, almost 77 percent were unvaccinated.
There were 211 covid-19 patients in the intensive care unit. Almost 87 percent were unvaccinated.
And 128 covid-19 patients need ventilators to breathe. Almost 88 percent were unvaccinated.
West Virginia reported 74 deaths related to covid-19 since the state’s prior update. West Virginia now has identified 4,219 covid-related deaths over the course of the pandemic.
“We know the death numbers are really mounting up not only in West Virginia but also in our country and the world,” Marsh said.
Of the thousands who have died of covid-19 in West Virginia, 225 were vaccinated, Marsh said. All the rest were unvaccinated.
“This really does reinforce the benefit of being vaccinated,” he said.