West Virginia GOP Gov. Jim Justice said Thursday he’s adding a new incentive to get state residents vaccinated against COVID-19 and "across the finish line" that'll pull at more than residents' purse strings.
In an interview on Newsmax's "John Bachman Now," Justice praised his state for initially having led the nation in vaccine compliance, but conceded it’s now "hit a barrier."
"We were able in West Virginia to lead the nation in getting vaccines out and getting them out quickly… but everybody's gonna hit the barrier and it's a shame," he said.
"We shouldn't really have to be doing incentives to get people to take a vaccine — it's going to save their life — but the reality of the whole thing is we gotta get everybody across the finish line."
The state already has announced it’s giving away customized pickup trucks, and hunting shotguns and hunting rifles to entice people into getting vaccinated against the virus, he said. Other prizes include 25 weekend getaways to local state parks, five lifetime hunting and fishing licenses — and two full four-year scholarships to any institution in West Virginia to vaccinated 12- to 25-year-olds.
"We're at 59% of our people in the state of West Virginia that have gotten one shot and we're really moving in a good way, and we're trending forward … but now is the time to maybe have a little bit of fun with this," he said.
"We're not gonna let Ohio get ahead of us … We're gonna give away a million dollars a week and make somebody a millionaire in West Virginia," he added.
In an announcement to Newsmax, Justice also added a bonus prize.
"We've tried to think about … asking people to get vaccinated for me or get vaccinated for themselves or get vaccinated for their family because that will save lives," he said.
"But I've got a little present here and I want to show you this. … Here's my little buddy and her name is Baby Dog," he told host John Bachman while holding a young bulldog.
"We'll call this ‘Do it for Baby Dog’," he declared.
Nationally, half of the population has gotten at least one dose of the vaccine, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The Moderna and Pfizer vaccines require two doses each, while the Johnson & Johnson vaccine requires only one shot.
The goal for the nation is to have up to 70% of each state vaccinated to outpace community spread of the virus.
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