West Virginia plans to give away guns, trucks, cash, and other prizes in its COVID-19 vaccine incentive program. From June 20 to Aug. 4, the state will award various items as part of the lottery, Gov. Jim Justice (R) announced Tuesday in a news conference. Those who enter will have opportunities to win custom-outfitted trucks, weekend vacations at state parks, lifetime hunting, fishing licenses, and custom hunting rifles and shotguns. There will also be monetary incentives, such as full scholarships to any higher education institution in West Virginia, a grand prize of $1.58 million, and a second-place award of $588,000.
The program will be paid for with federal pandemic relief funds. To be eligible, West Virginians simply need to obtain their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. Those who have already been fully vaccinated will need to register to qualify for the lottery. “All of our hospitalizations, all of our ICU units, all of our deaths, for the most part, are all people that have not been vaccinated. I don’t know how it gets any simpler than that,” Justice said. “These vaccinations are amazingly safe, and they’ll protect you. I don’t know-how in the world people are sitting on the sidelines still saying, no, I’m not going to do one, I’m not going to do it.”
Vaccine incentives in the state have been in place since April when Justice announced that residents between the ages of 16 and 35 were eligible for a $100 savings bond for getting the jab to encourage more younger residents to sign up.
Justice’s latest vaccine initiative aims to vaccinate 65% of all eligible West Virginians, 75% of West Virginians age 50 and older, and 85% of West Virginians age 65 and older with at least one dose by June 20. To date, roughly 51% of West Virginia’s population has received at least one amount, and 41% are fully vaccinated, per the state’s Health and Human Resources department.
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