More and more rewards are being offered around the country to persuade citizens into receiving vaccinations for COVID-19. The state of West Virginia, for example, is currently offering a $100 savings bond for any 16-35-year-old who consents to receiving a vaccine shot.
According to NPR, Governor Jim Justice announced the news at a press conference on Monday. It's part of a broader effort to encourage citizens of all ages, particularly the younger ones, to be more cooperative about receiving vaccines.
"Our kids today probably don't really realize just how important they are in shutting this thing down. I'm trying to come up with a way that's truly going to motivate them - and us - to get over the hump," said Justice.
The program would cover those in the said age bracket who've had their vaccines.
It is sponsored by the CARES Act, according to Justice, who adds that officials have "vetted this in every way that we possibly can."
The vaccination launch in West Virginia got off to a famously good start earlier this year. Against obstacles such as lack of internet access, the predominantly rural state had managed to completely vaccinate such a sizable portion of its populace by late February that it would have ranked third in the world if it had been a province.
The pace of vaccinations, however, slowed as the number of citizens registered for vaccines increased. As per NPR's vaccine tracker, the state now ranks 29th in the nation, with 29 percent of the population fully vaccinated and 35.3% getting at least one dose.
In mid-March, West Virginia started delivering vaccinations to those aged 16 and up, although those 65 and older were still prioritized. According to Justice, more than 78 percent of individuals in the older age group had taken at least one dose as of Monday, with 68.5 percent completely vaccinated.
Since those people who wished to get vaccinated had already received their shots, the demand for vaccines has dropped, reports the West Virginia Public Broadcasting Service which added that since the remaining West Virginians just don't want to get vaccinated, local health officials are "scrambling to use up their shipments."
As a result, the state has shifted its focus to vaccinating young people who, reportedly, are already noticeably infected by the virus.
According to a survey by West Virginia Public Broadcasting earlier this month, individuals under the age of 20 accounted for 26% of all infections nationwide, up from 16% during the pandemic. At the time, there had been more than 30 school outbreaks recorded, many of which were linked to extracurricular activities and social events.
The state's 380,000 people aged 16 to 35 are "not taking vaccines as fast as we'd like them to take them," Justice said Monday.
"If we really want to move the needle, we've got to get our younger people vaccinated," he concluded.
Justice's aim is to vaccinate more than 70% of West Virginia's qualifying population. He believes that if 80% of those who have not yet been vaccinated choose to do thus far, the state average vaccine levels would surpass that percentage.
Meanwhile, health authorities in Palm Beach County, Florida, are also considering incentives to get more people vaccinated.
Incentives considered include food vans that attract young people to vaccine centers, Publix gift certificates, and contributions to the commissary accounts of county jail prisoners that have been resistant to vaccinations.
"They may be leaving jail soon, so if we can give them a gift card or whatever it may be," Palm Beach County Mayor Dave Kerner said. "These are the strategies we're looking at right now."