Gov. Wolf says he’s interested in $100 vaccine incentives, here’s what that could cost

Coronavirus in Pennsylvania

FILE – (AP Photo/Michael Sohn, File)

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — President Joe Biden called on state and local leaders to provide $100 payments to newly vaccinated Americans as an incentive to boost vaccination rates. That means Pennsylvania or other local authorities could pay the ultimate price — literally.

Nearly $386 million, in fact. While neither state nor local leaders have announced any financial incentives for vaccination thus far, it’s important to know why such an incentive exists in the first place.

Biden’s call came as coronavirus cases jumped nearly 100% on average with the advent of the highly transmissible delta variant. At the time, the state’s most recent reports showed that 62.5% of Pennsylvanians age 18 and older were fully vaccinated which came out to nearly 6.5 million people.

To fight further hesitation, Biden pointed to anecdotal evidence that a $100 reward could show results — and Wolf agreed.

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Wolf said he was interested in the idea but noted he was still working on how to do that. “I am interested, which is why I’m saying to employees of the commonwealth, get a vaccine, I’ll give you a day off.”

For the time being, Wolf offered Commonwealth employees in state health care facilities and high-risk congregate-care facilities an additional 7.5 to 8 hours of paid time off for getting the vaccine.

But how much would the monetary initiative cost in Pennsylvania?

Based on data from the U.S. Census Bureau, Pennsylvania’s 18+ population in April 2020 was just over 10 million. If nearly 62% (6.5 million people) are fully vaccinated, that means 3.86 million Pennsylvanians are not.

If each person received $100 to get fully vaccinated, that means it would cost approximately $386 million in incentives to reach full vaccination among Pennsylvanians 18 and older. But where would the funds come from?

Biden says states and localities can use money from his COVID relief law to pay for the incentive programs. The American Rescue Plan allocated $350 billion to states, territorial, and local governments in the form of the State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds Program, according to the Treasury.

Earlier in the year, Treasury officials determined that recipients could use funds to provide incentives to encourage people to get vaccinated.

Just a day earlier, The Pennsylvania Department of Health said it was not considering the return of a statewide mask mandate despite the updates guidlines from the CDC.

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