HEALTH OFFICIALS: West Virginians are still skeptical to get COVID-19 vaccine

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RONCEVERTE, WV (WVNS) — COVID-19 vaccines are now available to anyone above the age of five, but health officials told 59News some people are still skeptical. Health Officer for Greenbrier and Monroe Counties Dr. Bridgett Morrison, said they saw a high volume of people lining up to receive the COVID-19 vaccine in the first five months of 2021, but that quickly tapered out.

“Obviously, we have been seeing more kids trickle in overall, we have had some boosters. Unfortunately, it is not what we would like as far as enough,” Morrison said.

Morrison said there were jumps in vaccination numbers as new variants like Delta and Omicron initially popped up across the region. Despite Omicron’s spread nationwide, she said Delta is still the primary variant in West Virginia. She said vaccines are crucial to preventing severe infection from any COVID-19 variant and the proof lies in the hospitalizations.

“We see people on a regular basis still in the hospitals, all the hospitals I work in and nationwide, that are coming in and they are critically ill,” Morrison said. “Those are the people that are not doing very well and, in fact, even dying and they are unvaccinated.”

Morrison said a lack of vaccinations is putting unnecessary strain on healthcare workers and infrastructure, leading to capacity issues for people seeking non-COVID related care.

“Our healthcare system is very much taxed as far as emergencies and hospitalizations, all of our clinics, our hospitals, our MedExpress, our urgent cares they are very much overrun currently with all of these sick people that want to be tested or are symptomatic and our healthcare system is near capacity or sometimes, in many places, at capacity,” Morrison said.

Morrison said despite stagnant vaccination numbers, testing numbers are consistently high especially following major holidays and travel periods. She said some of the best ways to protect yourself against COVID-19 include wearing masks, social distancing, self-monitoring for symptoms and getting tested if you do experience any symptoms.

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