- Associated Press - Tuesday, February 2, 2021

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - West Virginia officials said President Joe Biden is making good on his pledge to increase vaccine supplies, with a 16% bump in first doses received by the Mountain State this week.

The state leads the nation in the percentage of people vaccinated so far, and has clamored for many more doses to meet its target of administering 125,000 shots weekly.

Its shipment of first doses from the federal government increased by 3,700 this week, up to 27,300 doses from Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech, according to Lawrence Messina, a spokesman for the state’s pandemic response.

In total, 50,200 doses allocated for first and second shots were shipped to the state. The separate doses should be taken within a few weeks to reach their full effect.

Biden said last week that states would see a roughly 16% boost in deliveries of vaccines over the next three weeks. On Tuesday, the White House also announced that starting next week 1 million doses will be distributed directly to some 6,500 pharmacies across the country.

Walgreens, one of the big chains to join the partnership, said it will offer vaccines at select pharmacies in West Virginia and 14 other states. CVS is rolling out vaccine access in 11 states but not yet West Virginia.

States leaders have relied on small and independent pharmacies to vaccinate teachers, nursing homes and other essential workers across West Virginia.

Nearly 11% of West Virginia’s 1.78 million population has received at least one dose. About 4% are fully vaccinated, leading the 50 states.

Republican Gov. Jim Justice said free vaccination clinics will be held in all 55 counties for residents aged 65 and over starting on Wednesday. Residents can sign up online at vaccinate.wv.gov for appointments.

Currently, teachers aged 50 and older and health care workers are also eligible.

Justice said Friday that all 214 long-term care centers have been offered their second doses. The state has not released data showing how many residents and staff declined shots. Those who initially skipped shots still have the opportunity to receive priority access if they register for an appointment.

New positive cases continue to decline, with 277 confirmed cases over the past day. Hospitalizations are down 43% from their peak in early January to 465 on Tuesday.

There were three deaths reported on Tuesday, bringing the state’s total to 2,031.

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