'Vax for the Win': California announces COVID-19 vaccine incentive program

BREAKING NEWS 10 vaccinated Californians will win $1.5 million Full Story

Eighth grader Joseph Costello, centre, of Englewood, Ohio, victor of the Ohio Vax-a-Million, full college scholarship vaccination incentive prize, seen here on Thursday with his parents Colleen and Rich Costello.

Ten people will be announced the winners of $1.5 million each on June 15, with another 30 Californians to win $50,000 on June 4 and June 11, while beginning Thursday, two million newly vaccinated residents will automatically be eligible to receive a $50 prepaid grocery card.

The cash will be put in a savings account if the victor is under 18.

Following the lead of states including New York, Oregon and OH, the Golden State State is the latest to implement an incentive system to boost vaccinations and ensure a safe reopening, which is scheduled for June 15.

California launched a $116.5 million lottery on Thursday to incentivize state residents to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

Newsom said of the program: "Getting every eligible Californian vaccinated is how we bring our state roaring back from this pandemic".

"Some Californians weren't ready to get their Covid-19 vaccine on day one, and that's OK", said Dr Tomas Aragon, director of the California Department of Public Health.

"These are real incentives", Newsom said during a press briefing Thursday announcing the program. The number of people getting their first shots dropped notably in the past week, and the state is trying to not go off a cliff in the next week or two, Newsom said.

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That California is turning to cash prizes to encourage vaccinations marks a major turnaround from earlier this year, when Californians clamored for shots, with some driving or waiting in line for hours to get one.

"You don't have to register to do this as is the case in other states", Newsom said in comments today.

Newsom said he hopes to get over 70% of adults vaccinated by June 15, and "significantly increase" the number of younger residents.

"These types of strategies don't work in sometimes our lower-income, minority populations where we intend them to work if we don't at the same time lower those barriers - whether it's digital or transportation or language", Bibbins-Domingo said.

California is giving away the country's largest pot of vaccine prize money - US$116.5 million - in an attempt to get millions more inoculated before the most populous state fully reopens next month. "We got to finish the job".

Maryland drew a victor for its first $40,000 vaccine lottery prize Tuesday, kicking off 40 days of drawings.

Los Angeles County, home of about 10 million people, on Friday will start a separate prize program: the opportunity for season tickets to the Los Angeles Kings hockey team or Los Angeles Galaxy soccer club.

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