West Virginia offering young people $100 savings bonds to get vaccinated

The state of West Virginia is so desperate to get young people vaccinated, they’re willing to pay them to do it.

That’s according to Governor Jim Justice, who said this week they’ll start offering $100 savings bonds to vaccinated West Virginians between the ages of 16 and 35.

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"Our kids today don’t really probably realize just how important they are in shutting this thing down," Justice said Monday, adding that the state will use federal funds from the CARES Act to pay for it. It will be retroactive, so people who’ve already been vaccinated are eligible, meaning the incentive could apply to roughly 380,000 people, according to the state.

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"I think it’s great, honestly," Jenna Dodson, who would be eligible, said Tuesday in Charles Town.

But others, like Benjamin Sites, felt differently.

"I don’t feel as though it’s safe, and I don’t feel that I’m at risk," he said.

It’s the type of response that plays a big part in why the $100 offer is on the table in the first place.

Dr. Amesh Adalja of the Johns Hopkins University’s Center for Health Security said the U.S. is no longer a supply-constrained nation when it comes to the COVID-19 vaccine, it’s a demand-constrained nation. So, he thinks this type of incentive will become both more necessary and more common. That even goes for West Virginia, a state that at one point had given second doses to more of its population than any other state.

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"It’s unfortunate that it’s come to this, that we’re having difficulties getting people to be vaccinated," Adalja said. "I do think that giving people incentives to get vaccinated, especially the vaccine hesitant, especially among those groups who are seeing higher rates of infection, is going to be important."

A spokesperson for Governor Justice said they’re still figuring out the details of the $100 savings bond plan, including when young people can expect the money.