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Appalachia Health News tells the story of our health challenges and how we overcome them throughout the region. 

Get $100 With A Vaccine Shot, Eligible For Those 35 And Younger

Governor Jim Justice speaks at his virtual press briefing, June 26, 2020
Office of Gov. Jim Justice

Gov. Jim Justice announced Monday that the state will offer a $100 savings bond to anyone between the ages of 16 to 35 who receives, and has already received, a COVID-19 vaccine.

About 380,000 state residents fit that age group. With a potential price tag of tens of millions of dollars, Justice said it would be “the best money ever spent.”

That money would come from federal CARES Act funding.

Of all cases documented in the state in the last seven days, more than 40 percent were among those 30 years old and younger.

This cash incentive is one way Justice and his COVID-19 task force hope to increase vaccination rates.

Some employers in the U.S. are handing out similar monetary incentives. But West Virginia may be the first state to do so.

Demand for the COVID-19 vaccine is dwindling. West Virginia had an early lead in the nation’s vaccine rollout. It has since fallen to the middle of the pack. When it comes to vaccinating those 65 and older, the state is dead last, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The state says it will meet people where they are to get out the vaccine.

“We may even have to go door to door,” Justice said.

State officials hope to bring vaccine supply to a number of events and sites: sporting events, fairs, food banks, state parks, workplaces and stores.

Justice set a benchmark last week, saying once 70 percent of eligible West Virginians are vaccinated, he would rescind the indoor mask mandate.

Half of West Virginia residents have received at least one dose.

CORRECTION: An earlier version said only those 35 and younger who have yet to get a shot could get the $100 incentive. A press release from the governor's office says the incentive is retroactive. Everyone eligible should receive their savings bond in the mail.

Appalachia Health News Reporter, jleffler@wvpublic.org, 502-377-0438, @june_leffler

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