West Virginia Governor Jim Justice credited a “practical” approach to vaccine rollout, as well as a break from the federal model, in his state’s success in administering vaccine doses.
He said that as of Monday, every vaccine dose the state received had been administered, or was assigned to be administered to an individual in the next day or so.
“We’ve absolutely not gone with the federal model,” Justice told CNN’s John King on Thursday. Instead of utilizing chain drug stores to administer the vaccine, the governor said they’ve relied on partnerships with local pharmacies as well as their state health department and national guard to get the job done.
West Virginia’s “practical approach” also prioritizes vaccinating older residents, through a program called Operation S.O.W., for “save our wisdom.”
West Virginia leads the nation in terms of first doses administered per capita, according to data published by the CDC on Thursday. More than 6,600 first doses have been administered per 100,000 residents – nearly double the national rate.
“It’s as simple as mud. If you can get shots in arms, you’re going to save lives,” Justice said. “We don’t need to sit around trying to develop systems or meeting with committees or whatever. We needed to act. We needed to move.”