West Virginia’s vaccine incentive for younger residents will cost state $20M


West Virginians ages 16 through 35 who get a COVID-19 vaccine can receive a $100 savings bond or gift card from the state, Gov. Jim Justice announced Thursday.

Anyone in that age bracket who already has gotten vaccinated or does so in the future is eligible for the incentive money.

The governor announced the plan about a month ago, but the launch had been postponed as he worked through the details. West Virginians in the eligible age group who received the vaccine can choose either the savings bond or the gift card on the governor’s website.

Justice launched the program to encourage younger people to get the vaccine because they were vaccinating at lower rates than the older population. The program will cost the state about $20 million.

“We really appreciate you getting vaccinated,” Justice said during a news conference. “Not only are you picking up a few extra bucks here, but you may very well have saved your life or saved others, and we’re going to continue with this program and absolutely want all the 16-35 year olds to get vaccinated. We need you to get vaccinated right now.”

The governor reiterated his request for older residents to encourage younger residents to receive the vaccine. Although death rates are low for younger people, he said they can be transmitters of the disease.

Nearly 82% of West Virginians age 65 or older have received at least one dose of the vaccine, and nearly 73% have been fully vaccinated. About 55% of those age 12 or older have received at least one dose, and about 45.5% are fully vaccinated. Those age 12 through 15 recently became eligible for the vaccine after approval from the federal government.

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