Beginning this week, West Virginia will offer COVID-19 vaccinations to family members and caregivers of residents and staff members at assisted living communities as part of its vaccine plan for the long-term care industry, West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice announced Monday.

“We continue to lead the nation in protecting our most vulnerable West Virginians at our long-term care facilities,” Justice, a Republican, said at a press briefing regarding the state’s COVID-19 response.

West Virginia was one of several states and territories implementing their own vaccination plans after choosing not to participate in the federal Pharmacy Partnership for Long-Term Care program. Since January, however, public health officials and long-term care stakeholders have praised the state for how quickly it has been able to distribute and administer COVID-19 vaccines to long-term care facilities.

West Virginia completed its second round of COVID-19 vaccinations at all nursing homes and assisted living communities statewide by the end of January, and the state also was among the first states to implement a statewide vaccine maintenance program to ensure that new residents and staff members at such facilities would be vaccinated as well.

“And now, West Virginia will be among the first in the nation to expand our vaccine maintenance plan to include family members of residents and staff,” Justice said. “That’s a big, big step forward.”

Facilities will schedule vaccinations in conjunction with visits by family members and other scheduled vaccine clinics.