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W.Va. officials react to COVID-19 vaccine mandates for employees

Published: Jul. 27, 2021 at 6:12 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, W.Va (WDTV) - Some states, including California and New York, have instituted vaccine mandates requiring government workers to be vaccinated against COVID-19. Some are wondering if we are going to see those same mandates in West Virginia.

Governor Jim Justice on Tuesday said that he doesn’t plan on creating a mandate in the mountain state. “Surely not at this time and hopefully never,” the governor said.

The Department of Veterans affairs is requiring health workers to be vaccinated. It’s the first federal agency with a vaccine mandate for employees, but these mandates aren’t expected to stop there. Amid a national surge in coronavirus cases, more than 50 health care groups have joined forces to issue a joint statement, calling for healthcare employers to mandate COVID-19 vaccines for employees.

The governor continued, “If people start dying like flies and we start seeing body bag after body bag you can bet your boots people will run to get the vaccine, but do we want it to come to that?”

As of Tuesday, more than 56 percent of eligible West Virginian’s have been fully vaccinated , but the governor and state health officials are still calling for more to get the shot. West Virginia’s coronavirus czar Dr. Clay Marsh says the bottom line is that vaccination is the best protection. He said, “One of the critical factors in any potential enhanced or increased number of people hospitalized is to have the medical staff available to be able to tend to those people and as the governor said many times, General Hoyer said and I have said that the most important protection that we have is to be fully vaccinated.”

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