CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — West Virginia will step up its prizes for vaccines, enrolling all residents who have received a coronavirus shot into a lottery for the chance to win a college scholarship, an F-150 pickup truck or cash rewards.
Republican Gov. Jim Justice announced the plan for the new incentives Thursday, but more details are expected to be finalized next week. The governor has aimed to turn around a vaccination drive that drastically slowed down after a strong early start.
“We're going to make a few West Virginians millionaires before this is over,” Justice said. The program is expected to be paid through federal pandemic relief funds.
Vaccinated residents aged 16 to 35 are already set to receive a $100 savings bond or gift card.
Half of the state's residents have received at least one vaccine dose, while 40.6% are fully inoculated, according to state data. Justice projects that more than two-thirds of eligible residents, those ages 12 and over, will be vaccinated by the time the state removes its mask mandate on June 20.
He said he wanted to beat Ohio's incentive program, which awarded its first of five $1 million prizes to a vaccinated woman on Wednesday.
“We'll blow Ohio out of the water,” Justice said.
Giveaways will include 10 Rocky Ridge version Ford F-150 trucks, which can cost around $80,000. The state will also follow Ohio's prizes, which include full-ride college scholarships and $1 million rewards.
Justice said the drawings will start on June 20. He urges residents to get vaccinated before then in order to qualify.