CHARLESTON, W.Va. – After reading through the latest COVID-19 deaths in West Virginia, which now total 5,055, Gov. Jim Justice pointed out that more than 92% of the recent deaths were of unvaccinated people.

Justice than switched to the necessity for people who were previously vaccinated to get booster shots. “Absolutely without any question you need to get this booster shot right now. Our older people have responded well, but they have not responded well enough to the booster,” he said.

Saying that he was being “brutally honest,” the governor gave an explanation as to why West Virginia was initially leading the nation when it came to vaccinations, but is now at the bottom, in that regard: “West Virginia is a very, very, very conservative state and in a lot of situations people can get afraid and people are somewhat leery of the federal government, and in my book, you probably should be. But with all of that, we’ve always known that there is a significant percentage of our people out there that are really, really unsure or dead-set against taking the vaccine. When all of a sudden people all around are threatening them, like our federal government did, and said if you don’t get the vaccine your employer is going to let you go, basically when they start threatening them, they just made them more difficult for us to get them across the finish line as far as the vaccine.So at the end of the day, we’ve always known that West Virginians are free, and stubborn a little bit and a little bit conservative, for sure. With all of that, what did we do? The federal government made it a lot worse.”

Despite that explanation, Justice said: “We are the target for this thing(the COVID pandemic),” because “we’re old, we’re sickly in lots of different ways and we’re close to lots of people who can bring it to us. The only thing we have to combat this today is to get vaccinated.”

“If I have ever asked you from the depths of my heart, please take time and got get this booster shot. It is so important,” Justice pleaded.

The governor’s full comments can be heard below:

$50 cards for seniors, prizes for kids

The governor provided some additional information on the “Do it for Babydog Senior Center Edition” booster vaccine reward program. All West Virginians 50 and above, who’ve gotten their booster shot between Dec. 7 and Dec. 31. are eligible to receive a $50 pre-paid Visa gift card. Residents can register here to get their card.

The governor also mentioned that children, between the ages of 5 and 17, have several more chances to win prizes as part of the “Do it for Babydog Round 3” vaccination sweepstakes, after the latest round of winners were announced Wednesday.