Unfortunately, politics has overshadowed the Coronavirus pandemic. We first noticed it with the opposition to wearing masks. Today, the debate over who will and will not be vaccinated continues. In no state is the impact of this political division more evident than in West Virginia. The announcement comes as the virus spreads across the Mountaineer State. West had been a vaccine success story. In early March, West Virginia was among the top four states in terms of adult vaccination rates.
The state’s vaccine launch, as well as Gov. Jim Justice, has gotten worldwide plaudits. But, on the other hand, West Virginia now ranks worst in the US in terms of wholly immunized adults. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, just 48% of adults are fully vaccinated. In addition, West Virginia is the only state in the US where less than half of the adult population has received all of their vaccines.
When vaccines became more widely available, it became less about how well states (and their leaders) administered them and more about whether people were willing to accept them. In Mountaineer State, it turns out that there haven’t been many adults willing to do so. But, again, politics is at the root of the problem. West Virginia is one of the country’s most Republican states. In 2020, former President Donald Trump carried the state by over 40 points.