West Virginia vaccination rates are much lower than state has reported


A lot fewer West Virginians have received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine than the government had previously reported, according to Joint Interagency Task Force Director Jim Hoyer.

As of yesterday, the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources was reporting that more than 74% of eligible West Virginians received at least one dose of the vaccine, but now the department is saying that number is actually less than 64%, a drop of more than 10 percentage points.

The department’s tally of fully vaccinated West Virginians remains about the same – slightly more than 60%.

Although the department had previously included a breakdown of vaccination rates based on age, those numbers have been removed from the website. A team of data scientists from the DHHR and West Virginia University are currently reevaluating numbers and have established a new process with more checks on the data to ensure accuracy, Hoyer said in a statement.

Hoyer said the discrepancy was caused by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention double counting some of the numbers.

“Since the first part of May, the CDC has been double-counting the numbers that they send us related to the federal pharmacy program,” Hoyer said. “So it has made a significant impact on our numbers.”

Gov. Jim Justice said the new revelation means he has to double down on getting people vaccinated. West Virginia has one of the lowest rates in the country.

“The net of the whole thing is that there are a lot of folks still out in West Virginia that haven’t been vaccinated,” Justice said in a statement. “So now, by having this information, it makes it even better in some ways, because now I know we've got to double down even more. We have got to all work just one step harder, because there are a lot of people out there that we can still get to, and when we get to them, maybe we’ll be able to stop this thing. But we really need to step up.”

West Virginia’s COVID-19 cases have been increasing over the past couple of months, but have started to decline, according to DHHR numbers. Hospitalization numbers, on the other hand, continue to go up; there are currently 1,000 people hospitalized for COVID-19, which is the height of the pandemic.

There are 280 patients in the ICU, which is slightly down from the pandemic height of 292, which was reached on Monday. The number of patients on ventilators matches the pandemic peak at 168.

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