Coronavirus Updates

West Virginia offers vouchers to grandfamilies who get vaccinated

West Virginia

UPDATE: (Aug. 31 at 6:30 p.m.) Since West Virginia Governor Jim Justice announced the new $150 school voucher incentive for grandfamilies who get vaccinated against COVID-19, Bonnie Dunn with the Healthy Grandfamilies program says dozens of people have reached out to ask questions.

“It is a simple one-page form. We ask them their address, demographics, how many grandchildren are you raising those kinds of things and then they will need to provide the documentation that they have been vaccinated, Dunn says. “Then at that time it will be processed and the state will handle distributing those.”

She says she’s hoping the incentive will help encourage grandparents to take better care of their health.

“So, if you think about that and you start thinking about grandparents who have not been vaccinated could possibly come down with COVID and something happens to them what is going to happen to all of those children,” Dunn says.

The Healthy Grandfamilies group has been offering support to grandparents raising grandchildren for several years. Dunn says the opioid crisis is the main factor in putting grandparents in this position. She says with an already crowded foster care system, keeping children’s caregivers healthy is a major concern.

“I have one high school in this county that there are 114 students being raised by their grandparents that is a lot of children. So let’s just take the 114 number if those grandparents are not vaccinated and they would come down with COVID and something would happen what would we do with those 114 students?” Dunn said.

Registration for the program opens Tuesday, Sept. 7. Those eligible should contact their county’s coordinator for more information, Dunn says.

CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) – West Virginia has 19,000 children being raised by their grandparents, according to West Virginia Governor Jim Justice.

Due to concerns that many of these grandparents are facing some type of health issue that could increase their risk of contracting COVID-19, the governor says the state will be giving $150 school vouchers to “grandfamilies” who get themselves and the grandchildren they are raising vaccinated.

Registration for this program opens Tuesday, Sept. 7. Justice said the goal is to help get the eligible children vaccinated and also give families additional funds for school supplies.

“This is a way to remember Saving Our Wisdom: That’s our grandfamilies. This is the grandfamilies saving our wisdom so that they can save our youth and save our future,” Justice said.

Bonnie Dunn, with the Healthy Grandfamilies program through West Virginia State University, says many grandparents raising their grandchildren are battling some type of chronic illness. She says the organization is working with its coalitions to provide community programs to explain the importance of immunizations and vaccinations, in particular, the COVID-19 vaccination, to grandfamilies so they can continue to provide and care for their grandchildren.

“We really and truly are looking to our coalitions in the counties to have some community programs where they can invite the grandparents out to talk about the importance of immunizations and vaccinations, in particularly the COVID vaccination,” Dunn said.

The Healthy Grandfamilies program is going into its seventh year, Dunn says. Their initiative to help provide resources, advocacy, intervention and services for grandparents raising their grandchildren reaches into each county in the state.

To help explain the importance of getting vaccinated against COVID-19, Dunn referenced a cartoon regarding the smallpox vaccine:

“There was a little cartoon that came out some time ago, I think on Facebook, and it was a little child asking the grandmother about the scar that was on the side of her arm, and she said, ‘Oh, that’s my smallpox vaccination scar,’ and the child said, ‘Well, why don’t I have one?’ and Grandma said, ‘Because it worked.’ and that’s exactly what we’re trying to say to grandparents,” Dunn said.

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