Babydog

Gov. Jim Justice, with his dog Babydog, announced more vaccine incentives during his pandemic briefing Friday.

CHARLESTON — “Babydog 3” is coming next week to offer incentives for kids to get vaccinated on the heels of the approval of Pfizer for 5 to 11 year-olds.

Gov. Jim Justice made the announcement during his pandemic briefing Wednesday, saying details will be finalized by next week.

“We haven’t quite put it together yet,” he said, but it may roll out the first of the week.

The incentives will be directed at kids, he added, and he urged parents and grandparents to make sure their children are vaccinated.

Mask mandates in schools may also be impacted by that age group being approved for the vaccine.

Justice said the combination of the vaccine availability and the continued drop in new COVID cases in the state may present the “opportunity” for localities to revisit the mandate.

“I think that will be done and it will be done on the local level,” he said. “I am very, very hopeful that as we move forward there is a real opportunity to revisit this.”

Justice said it will depend on how many kids get vaccinated as well as any possible rise in cases as colder weather drives people indoors and increases the likelihood of more spread.

That should be known in a matter of weeks, he added, as Thanksgiving approaches,

Dr. Clay Marsh, state COVID-19 Czar, said the dose for the 5 to 11 age range will be only one-third the strength of an adult Pfizer dose, or 10 mcg (micrograms) rather than 30 mcg.

Children’s immune systems are stronger and the lower dose has shown to be effective.

Marsh also said clinical trials showed no complications from the vaccine in kids.

“Take this opportunity to protect your child,” he said, adding that although most COVID cases among children are asymptomatic they can spread the virus like an adult can.

State Health Officer Dr. Ayne Amjad said there is no “tier rollout” for vaccinations in kids like there was for adults related to underlying medical conditions being a high-risk priority.

All kids have access to the vaccine now, she said.

Both Marsh and Justice also continue to push the booster shots, which are available with Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson.

Marsh pointed to an Israeli study among 730,000 people with one group getting a booster and the other one no booster.

The results were “quite remarkable,” he said, and show for those who received a booster there was a 93 percent reduction on hospitalizations compared to those who didn’t.

“It really does underscore and emphasize the very important opportunity that we have,” he said.

As of Wednesday, 45,444 booster shots had been administered in the state, Marsh said. “Many people are still without booster shots.”

Marsh also urged residents to get a flu shot.

The flu season was mild last year because of COVID mitigations in place to stop the spread of the flu.

“We are very worried about a more problematic flu season,” he said. “So flu vaccinations this year are more important.”

The Mercer County Health Department is hosting a COVID vaccine clinic today at the Karen Preservati Center/Princeton Rescue Squad Education Center from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Both Pfizer and Moderna first and second doses and booster doses will be given.

The Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., Bluefield Alumnae Chapter, in collaboration with the Partnership of African American Churches (PAAC) will also offer the vaccines today, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at John Stewart United Methodist Church located at 102 Jones Street, Bluefield.

This is a free walk-up clinic for the Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson booster vaccines, first and second time vaccine doses, and testing.

No appointment is necessary and anyone who lives in Mercer or McDowell counties is welcome.

Contact Charles Boothe at cboothe@bdtonline.com

Contact Charles Boothe at cboothe@bdtonline.com

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