Vaccines are now available for children 6 months old and up, and state officials are urging parents to have their young kids vaccinated.

Retired Maj. Gen. James Hoyer, director of the Joint InterAgency Task Force, said during Gov. Jim Justice’s pandemic briefing Wednesday vaccines are now available for children 6 months and above, with over 17,000 additional vaccines coming to the state by June 29, both Moderna and Pfizer.

“Vaccines are now offered and becoming increasingly available in physician’s offices, pediatrician’s offices, local health departments, community health centers, hospitals, and pharmacies,” Hoyer said. “Please remember children ages 3 and younger cannot receive a vaccine from the pharmacy. You would have to visit one of the other sites mentioned.”

“We are excited about the COVID vaccine for the new age group,” said Dr. Ayne Amjad, state Health Officer and head fo the Bureau of Public Health.

Amjad said Moderna has two doses for children 6 months to 5 years and Pfizer has three doses for kids 6 months to 4 years old.

“We want to remind everyone that choosing vaccinations for our youngest age group in West Virginia is very important,” she said. “Young people still get sick, they can end up in the hospital. So we encourage you to get your children vaccinated. Even if a child has had COVID-19 in the past, they should still get vaccinated. We know it can help reduce reinfections.”

Parents who are hesitant to have their young children vaccinated should talk to their health care providers for accurate information, she said, adding that the vaccines are safe and can also help to avoid “long COVID,” which means symptoms can last for an unknown stretch of time.

“It is not something you wait and see,” she said of possible long-term side effects of COVID.

Hoyer said initial assessments on how many parents are interested in getting their kids vaccinated show about a 21 percent interest level.

A large portion of parents want to get the facts first, he said, and the task force is planning a series of outreach programs to provide the needed information.

Justice read a list of only two more COVID deaths in the state in the last 24 hours.

“Only two additional deaths is surely a positive sign compared to where we have been,” he said of the total 7,018 total number of COVID-related deaths in the state since the pandemic began.

Amjad said the decline in deaths, although the state remains around 2,000 active cases and 187 in the hospital, is likely due to the number of people vaccinated and treatments now available.

Justice also announced that Melissa Decker will lead West Virginia’s new office located in the Hall of States in Washington, D.C.

Decker will work to identify areas where the state can compete for more federal grant funding. She will also serve as Justice’s liaison with West Virginia’s Congressional Delegation and will serve as the primary point of contact between federal officials and West Virginia.

“I am extremely excited to have Melissa join our team,” Justice said. “When you talk to her, you can tell right away that she truly cares about helping people. In this job as our D.C. Director, she will be able to use her wealth of knowledge and connections at the Capitol to help bring more goodness to all West Virginians.”

Decker brings over 30 years of public service experience to the position, having worked in various roles with state governments and the federal government.

Most recently, she served as Senior Advisor to the Under Secretary of Memorial Affairs within the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

Decker also previously worked in former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s administration as Deputy Director of California’s D.C. Office and as a Deputy Cabinet Secretary. She also served as a Legislative Analyst for the U.S. House Republican Conference under U.S. Rep. John Boehner.

Originally from Ashland, OH, Decker earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Politics and Public Policy from Bethany College in Bethany, WV.

“I am honored to have been chosen by Governor Justice for this important role, which will allow me to make a difference in a place where I have deep roots,” Decker said. “West Virginia is part of who I am. It’s the state that allowed me to earn a degree and chase my dream of helping people through public service. For me to be able to continue my public service on behalf of the State of West Virginia, which is near and dear to my heart, is an incredible opportunity, and I will work hard everyday to make a real difference in people’s lives.”

— Contact Charles Boothe at

Contact Charles Boothe at

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