Paying Residents to Get Vaccinated

The numbers are concerning: just a few months ago, West Virginia was in the top five states in the nation in rolling out the COVID-19 vaccine. Gov. Jim Justice, on a daily basis, touted the effectiveness with which the state not only got shots in arms, but shots in the most vulnerable arms ­ — those aged 65 and older.

But now, just a few months later, West Virginia finds itself among the worst states in the nation in administering the vaccine.

As of Wednesday, West Virginia had used 70.2% of the allocated vaccine, the fifth-lowest percentage in the nation, according to data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. Only Georgia, Arkansas, Mississippi and Alabama have used less.

West Virginia is now 30th overall in the percentage of people fully vaccinated at 29.1%. Maryland (32.4%), Virginia (31.1%), Ohio (30.8%), Pennsylvania (30.5%), and Kentucky (30.7%), all of which lagged well behind just a few months ago, now have moved ahead.

Justice and the members of his Coronavirus Task Force know the data and understand the challenges in getting what has become a hesitant public to get the shot. The governor’s latest plan, announced Monday, is to offer $100 savings bonds to all residents aged 16 to 35 who get vaccinated.

Justice said he would use COVID relief funds to pay for this, with a projected cost of about $12 million (a $100 savings bond costs $50) if everyone in that group who’s not already vaccinated would get the shot.

We have to give Justice credit for thinking of new ways to entice residents to get vaccinated. Otherwise, at the rate at which West Virginia is now administering shots (1,785 total were given Monday, according to the Department of Health and Human Resources), it will be well into next year before any type of herd immunity is reached.

A few months ago, no one would have imagined it would come to giving money to get a shot. For the state’s sake, let’s hope this works.


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