West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice announced the state will give residents aged 16 to 35 a $100 savings bond if they get vaccinated against the coronavirus.
The Republican governor announced the incentive plan Monday during a press conference when he said demand for vaccines across the state is dropping.
“We know for sure that kids 16 all the way up to 35 years of age are having a real transmission issue with this disease. We can’t get kids across the finish line with this,” he said. “Our kids today don’t really probably realize just how important they are to just shutting this down.”
The money will come from the $2.2 trillion CARES Act relief package that the previous Trump administration signed into law in March 2020.
The plan, Justice added, is retroactive, meaning those in this demographic who have already received the shot are still eligible for the savings bond.
Justice told reporters during the press conference that the goal is to vaccinated 70% of the eligible 1.47 million West Virginians. However, only 52% have received at least one of two doses.
The governor said if the vaccine numbers continue at this slow growth rate he will continue to read during daily coronavirus updates the names of West Virginians who have died from the virus as some 588,000 residents sit “on the sidelines and not taking the shot.”
“Now, we got to do something about this this, don’t we,” he said.
The state’s health department said some 1.23 million doses have been administered in the state, with more than 700,000 people receiving their first shot and nearly 560,000 people having been fully vaccinated.
There are some 380,000 people among the incentive plan’s targeted demographic who aren’t “taking the vaccines as fast as we’d like them to take them,” Justice said.
“We have got to get to a situation where we shut this thing down,” He said. “We stop it. We stop it dead in its tracks and if we stop it dead in its tracks these masks go away, the hospitalizations go away, the death toll and the body bags start to absolutely become minimal. We got to shut it down, West Virginia.”
West Virginia, which opened vaccine eligibility to all residents over the age of 16 on March 22, has reported 151,671 infections including 289 deaths to the pandemic, the state’s health department said.
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