West Virginia’s billionaire governor gets first dibs on COVID vaccine while lung-damaged coal miners have to wait: report

West Virginia's GOP governor Jim Justice is 69-years-old and overweight and says that older Americans should be first in line for the new COVID vaccine, adding that he wants to be vaccinated to boost public trust in the vaccine, but as Forbes' Ken Silverstein points out, the state's coal miners are suffering from lung damage and should be given priority.


According to the Ohio Valley Resource, the first coronavirus cases recorded in the region were at a mine in Pennsylvania near the West Virginia border. Miners, Silverstein writes, are essential workers because they're part of the process that produces electricity, but their work requires them to travel shoulder to shoulder underground, making social distancing nearly impossible. Couple this with the fact that their line of work is hard on the lungs, making a coronavirus diagnosis potentially fatal.

So why is it that Governor Justice can get ahead of these coal miners when it comes to getting vaccinated? According to Silverstein, "the miners always get the shaft, And being a billionaire in a position of power gets you bumped to the front of the line."

This Monday evening, Justice received his vaccination, but other state governors are working to dispel the notion that political leaders get vaccine favoritism. As CBS Pittsburgh reports, Utah Governor Gary Herbert, 73, Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee, 61, and the governors of Ohio, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska and Washington similarly have said they will wait for their turn to be vaccinated so the elderly and essential workers can be first in line.