Rep. Miller Leads Delegation Call for Administration’s Prioritization of W. Va. in Next COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution

Congresswoman Carol Miller (R-WV) was joined by Senators Shelley Moore Capito and Joe Manchin as well as Reps. David McKinley and Alex Mooney in sending a letter to the Biden Administration urging its prioritization of West Virginia in the next round of COVID-19 vaccine distribution. Addressed to Acting Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Norris Cochran and Acting Department of Defense Secretary David Norquist, the letter cites West Virginia’s record for successful vaccine distribution and the high number of at-risk West Virginians as reasons for the request.


“West Virginia is leading the nation in COVID-19 vaccination distribution, making it a proven and commonsense choice for distribution prioritization,” said Congresswoman Miller. “I am proud to lead this letter with my West Virginia colleagues to ensure our state’s at-risk populations, frontline workers, and those eligible receive the vaccine as swiftly as possible. Every successful vaccine brings us one step closer to defeating this virus. I urge the Biden Administration to prioritize West Virginia and our successful vaccine administration track record in its next round of distribution.”

“West Virginia is meeting the challenge to vaccinate our population,” said Senator Capito. “We have successfully established vaccination sites in every one of our 55 counties and also had the first online state vaccination registration system in the nation. Now that we have shown we have the capability and the infrastructure to rapidly administer doses and given our large elderly population, it is essential the Biden administration prioritize West Virginia for additional doses in the future rounds of COVID-19 vaccine distribution.”

"I thank the Biden Administration for the quick actions they have taken in the past week to increase vaccines across the country," said Senator Manchin. "West Virginia continues to lead the nation in COVID-19 vaccinations, proving our state is prepared to receive an increase in the next COVID-19 vaccine distribution so our frontline workers, healthcare professionals and all West Virginians who want a vaccination can receive one as additional doses become available. As the state with the highest rate of people at-risk for complications from COVID-19, prioritizing the Mountain State in the next vaccine distribution just makes sense. I look forward to continuing to work with the Biden Administration as they work to improve vaccine supply and distribute additional doses for West Virginians."

“West Virginia has shown what good planning and attention to detail can do," said Congressman McKinley. "Our state and local leaders have created a plan that addresses the needs of West Virginians and we should not be penalized for it. Governor Justice has said if we can get the shots we can get them into arms. We are hoping that HHS will grant our request so more West Virginians can be vaccinated. Without mass vaccination we will never reopen this country.”

“I’m proud of the Mountain State’s national lead in vaccine distribution," said Congressman Mooney. "The allocation of additional doses should prioritize West Virginia, especially given the high rate of elderly and at-risk populations. I will continue to work with my colleagues in Congress to make sure West Virginians have the resources needed to combat the coronavirus.”
 
The full text of the letter:
Dear Acting Secretary Cochran and Acting Secretary Norquist,

Thank you for your leadership as our country works to address the COVID-19 pandemic. Through the establishment of Operation Warp Speed, we have seen a historic public-private partnership to create multiple COVID-19 vaccines in a matter of months. We support your work to quickly distribute these vaccines across the nation to help save lives and return to normalcy. We look forward to the additional vaccines being shipped to states as early as next week. As you may know, our state of West Virginia has led the nation in distribution of COVID-19 vaccines and seeks to continue this effort.

As of January 26, 2021, the State of West Virginia’s first dose vaccination administration rate was 94.1%. This makes West Virginia’s vaccine administration rate one of the highest in the nation. West Virginia has administered 169,227 first doses of the vaccine and 43,648 second doses, totaling 212,875 doses administered statewide. Governor Justice has announced future vaccination clinics across the state to ensure our aging population and frontline workers can easily access the vaccine. While many states work to increase their rate of vaccination, West Virginia estimates it can administer up to 125,000 vaccines a week, far above its current weekly allocation of roughly 24,000 vaccine doses.

West Virginia has the third highest rate of people over 65 years of age, and the highest rate of persons at-risk of complications from COVID-19 infection. This rate of at-risk persons makes it imperative that West Virginia be prioritized for future vaccine allocations. By prioritizing vaccine doses to states most at need and ready to use them, we can ensure that no vaccine expires before use. While previous allocations relied solely on a pro rata population formula, we feel this needs to be adjusted to better reflect the phases of vaccine administration. West Virginia has a higher rate of our population eligible for vaccination under the first phase than any other state. This coupled with West Virginia’s successful vaccination administration, supports the need for more vaccine doses to the state.

Prioritizing vaccine doses to states with at-risk populations and most ready to use the vaccines, such as West Virginia, will help improve the health of our state’s residents and the nation as a whole. While you work to improve our vaccine supply chain and manufacturing, we urge you to focus future allocations on states with the highest need and most ready to use the vaccine, so no vaccine doses expire. Thank you for your consideration of this request and your tireless work to keep Americans safe and healthy.