Jim Justice file photo

Gov. Jim Justice speaks during a COVID-19 briefing in the photo above.

CHARLESTON — West Virginia residents between 16 and 35 years old who are vaccinated for COVID-19 will get $100, whether it’s a savings bond or a check.

Gov. Jim Justice said Wednesday during his pandemic briefing that working through the details of purchasing enough savings bonds to cover as many as 280,000 residents in that age category is “taking a whole lot to get there” as far as being set up with the federal government.

“We may send a $100 check,” he said, but the money will be given to those in that age range who get fully vaccinated whether a savings bond or a check.

Justice’s goal is to get about 275,000 of the 380,000 in the 16 to 35 age range to get vaccinated, at a cost of around $27 million.

If that number is reached, it would push the percentage of residents vaccinated to 70 percent.

Justice said that would mean the pandemic has been “shut down” and masks will no longer be mandated in indoor public places.

Currently, 52.2 percent of eligible residents have had at least one dose of the vaccine.

The cost to cover the payments to that age group is covered by CARES Act money, he said, pointing out that shutting down the vaccine would save a lot more money just in testing, as well as save a lot of lives.

“DHHR (Department of Health and Human Resources) told me we spent between $19 million and $20 million in the last two months on testing alone,” he said. “What a return on investment (of the money spent on payments to get the shot)” because the need for testing would decrease as well other COVID-related expenses.

Justice also emphasized that payments are retroactive and anyone in the age group who has already had the shot will get paid.

Young people in the state have historically stepped up to fight in wars “over and over again,” he said, and getting the vaccine is “a way of patriotism.”

“I am not asking you to go to war … but something that could save your life or the lives (of family members),” he said. “You are transmitting this thing now more than anyone. You are the key to this whole thing.”

Although the number of active cases and other statistics related the virus have stabilized recently, Justice said the variants are out there and circulating.

“West Virginia is not immune (to the spread of variants seen in other states and countries),” he said. “If we don’t do this (get vaccinated), the variants are going to probably catch us all.”

Contact Charles Boothe at cboothe@bdtonline.com

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