West Virginia sets new bar for COVID vaccine incentives with $100 reward

April 27, 2021, 3:30 PM UTC

West Virginia is making one of the nation’s biggest pushes to get its population vaccinated against COVID-19.

Governor Jim Justice has announced that any West Virginia resident between the ages of 16 and 35 who gets vaccinated will receive a $100 savings bond.

The money will come from the federal stimulus funding given to the state. Should the savings bonds run out, Justice has vowed the state will cover any overflow with cash.

“I’m telling you, West Virginia, it’s time to shut this thing down,” Justice said. “We want to really move this needle, and we want to move it right now. … I am telling you, we need to kickstart this, and kickstart this in a big way.”

West Virginia repeatedly has been highlighted as a state with some of the best COVID policies. To date, roughly 52% of West Virginia’s population has received at least one COVID shot. But an estimated 40% are hesitant about getting one. The vast majority of those who are resisting the shot are between the ages of 16 and 35. Justice says he’s hoping the financial incentive will result in an 80% participation rate among those hesitating.

While private businesses have been offering incentives for people to get vaccinated for some time, this is the first cash incentive from a state. Officials hope that the lure of real money is a bit more enticing than a free daily doughnut, free food or free beer.

Some colleges, though, have been using cash as an enticement. For example, the University of North Carolina at Greensboro is raffling off 10 $150 flex meal plans and 10 $350 bookstore scholarships—and one student will receive free on-campus housing for the next full academic year.

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