West Virginia offers $100 savings bond to younger adults who get COVID-19 vaccine
(CBS News) - As health officials in West Virginia scramble to find willing arms for the state’s supply of COVID-19 vaccines, the state’s governor is hoping a financial incentive will convince younger residents to roll up their sleeves.
West Virginians ages 16 to 35 who get vaccinated will also get a $100 savings bond, Governor Jim Justice, a Republican, said in a Monday briefing.
“Our kids today probably don’t really realize just how important they are in shutting this thing down,” he said. “I’m trying to come up with a way that’s truly going to motivate them — and us — get over the hump.”
West Virginia has roughly 380,000 people between the ages of 16 and 35, and the offer will apply retroactively to those who have already been inoculated.
The state will use federal funds allocated under the 2020 Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act to cover the cost of the bonds, said Justice, who added that the idea had been vetted “every way that we possibly can” to make sure the plan is feasible.
Of the nearly 1.5 million West Virginians eligible for the shots, 52% have received at least one dose. But vaccinations in the state have waned in recent weeks, leaving the state short of its goal of immunizing more than 70% of residents.
“If we really want to move the needle, we’ve got to get our younger people vaccinated,” Justice said.
“If we can get to 70%, we’ll shut this virus down,” he added. “If we do that, the masks go away, the hospitalizations go away and the deaths become minimal.”
Public health experts disagree on precisely how much of the U.S. population needs to be vaccinated in order to halt the spread of COVID-19 and reach so-called herd immunity, with most estimates ranging from 70% to 85%. Yet with a significant share of Americans reporting hesitancy about getting the vaccine, scientists worry that herd immunity could be delayed.
West Virginia oversaw a remarkably successful start in its vaccine rollout in January, but uptake has since slowed. As of Tuesday, state health officials reported nearly 152,000 coronavirus cases and 2,662 deaths from COVID-19.
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