California announces biggest vaccine lottery in country

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A 15-year-old receives a first dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at a mobile vaccination clinic at the Weingart East Los Angeles YMCA on May 14, 2021. (Patrick T. Fallon / AFP / Getty Images)

(KTLA) – As California eyes a June 15 date to lift most of its COVID-19 restrictions, the state announced Thursday that it is offering cash and other incentives for residents to get vaccinated.

Up to $116.5 million in total prizes will be up for grabs under the “Vax For The Win” vaccine incentive program, making it the biggest in the country, according to a news release from Gov. Gavin Newsom’s office.

Ten vaccinated people will be chosen to win a grand prize of $1.5 million apiece during a drawing on June 15. To be eligible, Californians have to have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, meaning it’s open to everyone 12 years old and up.

Additionally, 30 winners will be selected for $50,000 prizes over two Fridays, on June 4 and June 11.

To date, more than 62% of Californians who qualify for the shot are at least partially vaccinated, according to Newsom’s office. But around 12 million eligible residents still haven’t received a dose yet, and officials hope that the financial incentive will push them toward vaccination.

“Some Californians weren’t ready to get their COVID-19 vaccine on day one, and that’s okay. This program is designed to encourage those who need extra support to get vaccinated and help keep California safe,” Dr. Tomás J. Aragón, the state’s public health officer and director of the California Department of Public Health, said in the release.

The goal, ultimately, is to get everyone who is eligible for the vaccination to receive the shot. To that end, beginning May 27, the state will offer $50 gift cards to the next 2 million newly vaccinated residents. Those who begin and complete their vaccination on or after that date will qualify for either a $50 virtual prepaid card, or a $50 gift card to select grocery stores, while supplies last.

“Getting every eligible Californian vaccinated is how we bring our state roaring back from this pandemic,” Newsom said. “California has already made incredible progress in the fight against COVID-19, with the lowest case rates in the country while administering millions more vaccines than any other state. But we aren’t stopping there, we’re doing everything it takes to get Californians vaccinated as we approach June 15 to help us fully reopen safely.”

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