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70K Registered For Vaccine Sweepstakes

CHARLESTON ­ — About 70,000 West Virginia residents have so far registered for the COVID-19 vaccination sweepstakes, Gov. Jim Justice said Tuesday.

The incentive to encourage residents to get vaccinated against the virus includes the chance to win money, trucks, getaways in West Virginia, scholarships and hunting rifles and shotguns. The first drawing is on June 20, Fathers’ Day and West Virginia’s birthday.

“On Fathers’ Day, we’ll make somebody in West Virginia a millionaire,” said Justice, whose pet English bulldog, Babydog, is the face of the promotion.

Drawings will be held for the “Do it for Baby Dog: Save a life, Change a life” sweepstakes through Aug. 14. Anyone 12 and older who has received at least one shot of vaccine is eligible for the sweepstakes.

Residents can register at doitforbabydog.wv.gov.

The purpose of the sweepstakes is to encourage residents to get vaccinated.

“We want all West Virginians to step up,” Justice said.

The new variant of the virus, the Delta variant that originated in India, is more infectious than the UK variant.

“These variants happen when people who have not been vaccinated get infected and the virus starts to grow and replicate inside of people who have not been vaccinated,” Dr. Clay Marsh, coronavirus leader in West Virginia.

The virus mutates to make it more infectious and deadlier, he said. The UK strain, the predominant strain in the United States, is about 40 percent more infectious and deadlier and the Delta variant is about 40 percent more infectious than the UK, Marsh said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is reporting the vaccines are effective against the variants, he said. The vaccines appear effective six months after application.

Should booster shots be required, the state will be ready, Justice said. However, he added, no one knows when or if that would be required.

Significant progress has been made in vaccinating 50- and 65-and-above age populations, James Hoyer, who heads the Joint Interagency Task Force on Vaccines. The governor has said the mask mandate will be lifted on June 20, when the share of the eligible population with at least one shot is projected to be near 65 percent.

“We still gave a good bit of work to do with the eligible population, 12 and above,” Hoyer said. “We need everybody to jump in and help with that.”

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