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Justice: 70K registered for vaccination sweepstakes

Gov. Jim Justice's pet English bulldog, Babydog, is the face of the promotion.

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

The incentive to encourage residents to get vaccinated against the coronavirus includes the chance to win money, trucks, get-aways 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 Gov. Jim Justice, whose pet English bulldog, Babydog, is the face of the promotion.

About 70,000 residents have so far registered for the “Do it for Babydog: Save a life, Change a life” sweepstakes. Drawings will be held 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 aren’t vaccinated get infected and the virus starts to grow and replicate inside of people who have not been vaccinated,” said 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, Marsh said.

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

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