- Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy was the last to be vaccinated, Insider confirmed.
- Governors offered a multitude of reasons to get vaccinated, including age, continuity of government and personal health.
- Thirteen governors jumped the line early, saying they did so to show the vaccine was safe.
- See more stories on Insider’s business page.
All 50 American governors — from the arch-conservative to decidedly liberal — are now vaccinated against COVID-19, according to an Insider survey of the states’ chief executives.
The unanimity among governors arrives as the nation carefully reopens and states peddle wildly imaginative ways to combat hesitancy among the tens of millions of people who remain unvaccinated.
Those rewards include everything from a million-dollar lottery and event ticket giveaways to free doughnuts, beer, and pizza.
Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy, a Republican, is the last US governor to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. He received his first vaccine dose “earlier this month and will complete his vaccine series here shortly,” Anne Zink, chief medical officer for the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services, told Insider on Monday.
Zink said that she personally vaccinated Dunleavy. She declined to specify the exact date or which vaccine she administered, citing the governor’s request for privacy.
“He was OK sharing with the public that he has started his vaccine series, he plans to get fully vaccinated, and that I vaccinated him,” Zink said. “The rest is his personal health information that we protect regardless of who the individual is and only share what people give us permission to share.”
That Dunleavy is receiving a vaccine “series” means he almost certainly received the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, which require two shots. Dunleavy initially indicated he’d get vaccinated around January 1. He didn’t, and his dose was further delayed after he contracted COVID-19 in late February. He had not been vaccinated as of late May.
Governors across the country took different paths to getting their own vaccines. They offered Insider a multitude of reasons — age, continuity of government, their own personal health histories — as to why they either received it as early as December or, in a few cases, waited until mid-spring.
Thirty governors waited to receive the vaccine until they were eligible by their own states’ guidelines, according to Insider’s tally.
Of those 30, some governors waited even longer — delaying their shot until the most vulnerable residents of their states received their shots. Among them: Hawaii Gov. David Ige and Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf.
Thirteen governors received the vaccine early, saying they did so to show it was safe. And five governors received it because they were included as essential workers in their state as elected officials, or for “continuity of government.”
Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey, 76, was among those who got the vaccine early. She’s also the nation’s oldest governor.
“I’m not trying to step ahead of the line,” Ivey said after her first dose on December 21.
“I’m trying to save Alabamians. You can have confidence in this vaccine and its effectiveness. And I want to prove that by showing you that I’m willing to take it.”
—Governor Kay Ivey (@GovernorKayIvey) December 21, 2020
Some governors’ offices did not provide reasons, such as Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon. Gordon, 64, received the jab on March 4.
Five governors — South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster, Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte, and Dunleavy — contracted COVID-19, which in some cases delayed their vaccine status.
Gianforte was diagnosed with COVID-19 a week after receiving his first dose, underscoring that immunity isn’t immediate. McMaster received his vaccine on April 19. He waited 90 days after his diagnosis to receive the shot, his office said.
On March 16, Insider reported that 26 out of 50 governors had received their vaccination. By March 24, that number had increased to 30 vaccinated governors.
By April 14, 47 of 50 — or 94% of governors — had been vaccinated.
More than 150 million Americans have been fully vaccinated as of June 21, according to the Our World in Data project at the University of Oxford. That’s almost 45% of the American population.
Mississippi, Alabama, Arkansas, Wyoming, Louisiana, Tennessee, and Georgia are among states with the lowest percentage of residents being fully vaccinated. These states had fewer than 35% of their residents fully vaccinated as of June 21, according to the project.
‘A beer for your troubles’
Despite all US governors now counting themselves among vaccinated Americans, there hasn’t been a concerted effort among them to battle vaccine hesitancy.
Instead, governors have spearheaded those efforts on their own.
“We are aware of state-level collaborations with community leaders and faith-based organizations. And of course governors are leading efforts in their own states to encourage people to get vaccinated.” National Governors Association spokesman James Nash told Insider. “…We are not aware of multi-state collaborations in this area.”
It appears the White House is the only force joining together governors about their COVID-19 efforts. On May 11, Biden held a virtual discussion with seven governors about how the nation can get more people vaccinated.
That included DeWine, Utah Gov. Spencer Cox, Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker — and Democratic Govs. Michelle Lujan Grisham of New Mexico, Janet Mills of Maine and Tim Walz of Minnesota.
“We have to make it easier and more convenient for all Americans to get vaccinated,” Biden told the governors.
In Illinois, legislation sponsored by state Rep. Mike Zalewski would allow bars across the state to reward customers with a free beer with proof of vaccination. Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker this week also offered up 50,000 free tickets to the north suburban amusement park Six Flags Great America with proof of a vaccine.
In Erie County, New York, residents who get vaccinated were offered a free beer at county-sponsored events.
And in Ohio, Gov. Mike DeWine unveiled a lottery system that will dole out $1 million four-year university scholarships to incentivize people to get the vaccine.
Beginning May 26, those who had received at least one vaccine dose can enter a lottery that will provide $1 million in cash every Wednesday for five weeks. The state will also draw a lottery winner for five scholarships to an Ohio public university. DeWine said the dollars are coming from existing federal pandemic relief funds — a move some are already criticizing.
In Washington, DC, residents who received a jab at locations sponsored by supermarkets were given 10% off coupons. And several marijuana dispensaries are handing out freebies like rolled joints with proof of a vaccine.
In mid-May, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan encouraged businesses in the state to offer incentives to vaccinated people. Ledo Pizza is giving free pizza to people who have received their first COVID-19 vaccine shot in Maryland in the months of May and June, for a total of 10,000 free pizzas.
“Maryland businesses have risen to the occasion time and time again throughout this pandemic, and offering incentives for vaccinations is another way they are stepping up,” Hogan said in a statement. “…The sooner we get more Marylanders vaccinated, the sooner we can bring this pandemic to an end.”
—Governor Larry Hogan (@GovLarryHogan) May 14, 2021
Although Dunleavy was often mum about his own vaccine status, the Alaska governor has been an advocate for the lifesaving shot for the more than 700,000 residents in his state.
Dunleavy also offered up the vaccine to tourists at the state’s airports.
And he’s even gone international, offering vaccines to residents of the British Columbia town of Stewart, hoping it would lead the Canadian government to ease restrictions between Stewart and Hyder, a border community in Alaska, the AP reported.