West Virginia Leads Pack In Vaccine Administration; GOP Governor: ‘We Didn’t Sit On Our Hands’

West Virginia leads the nation in COVID-19 vaccine administration and distribution, even more so than other states that have gained attention for their vaccine rollout strategies, according to federal data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The Associated Press, which compiled CDC vaccination data, reports that West Virginia provided 7.5% of its roughly 1.8 million residents with the first of two COVID-19 vaccine doses since the FDA authorized COVID-19 vaccines for emergency usage late last year. Furthermore, 1.2% of all West Virginia residents have already received their second COVID-19 vaccine dose, which is spaced several weeks apart from the first inoculation.

Governor Jim Justice (R-WV) has credited the state’s thus-far effective vaccine rollout with engaging the state National Guard, local pharmacies, and local health departments.

“We didn’t sit on our hands. I mean, we acted. We brought our local pharmacies in, we brought our local health departments in, we brought our National Guard in, and we started putting shots in people’s arms because this thing is all about age, age, age. That’s all there is to it,” Justice told CBS News host Margaret Brennan in a “Face The Nation” interview on Sunday morning.

According to CDC data, which lags behind by several days, the federal government has distributed around 205,000 vaccines to the Mountain State, of which 134,000 had been reported as administered to patients as of Friday, January 15, the last time the data was updated.

Justice suggests the real-time data is even more impressive, and told CBS that 98.1% of the state’s vaccines have either been earmarked for someone or actually administered. “West Virginia has been the diamond in the rough that a lot of people have missed,” he said.

During a press conference on Friday, Justice said that West Virginia plans to continue improving its vaccine rollout with time, even though the CDC data suggests they’ve already been the state to most effectively vaccinate its residents.

“That’s not good enough for us. We want to lap the field,” he said. “While everybody’s standing around trying to figure up a system, or trying to figure up something and they’re standing around twiddling their thumbs, West Virginia’s not only leading the nation, we want to absolutely lap the field.”

According to the Associated Press, no other states have exceeded a 7% first-dose administration rate for their populations, but a handful of them have exceeded the 5% mark: Alaska has provided 6.7% of its population with a first dose, South Dakota has provided 6.5% of its population with one, and North Dakota has provided 6.1% of its population with one. Other notable states include Connecticut, (5.2% of population provided with first dose), Vermont (5.2% of population provided with first dose) and Oklahoma (5.1% population provided with a first dose).

Nearly a dozens states have first-dose vaccination rates below 3%, including Virginia (2.9%), North Carolina (2.9%), Wisconsin (2.9%), Mississippi (2.8%), California (2.7%), Nevada (2.7%), Arizona (2.7%), Idaho (2.6%), South Carolina (2.4%), Georgia (2.2%), and Alabama (2.1%).

Related: While Deaths From Virus Spiral To Record Highs, CA Has Nearly 2 Million Vaccines Lying Unused, Report Says

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