Governor Gavin Newsom unveiled a $116.5 million COVID-19 “Vax-a-Million” vaccination incentive plan on Thursday, aiming to boost the number of vaccinated Californians and potentially reward those who have already been vaccinated.
According to the plan, $100 million will go towards $50 gift cards for Kroger’s, Albertson’s, or as a generic Bank of America card. 2 million of the cards will be issued to the next 2 million Californians ages 12 and up who vaccinate based on a first come, first serve basis following the final dose of the selected type of vaccine.
For vaccinated Californians, they will be automatically entered into a series of lottery drawings through the middle of June. On June 4th and June 11th, drawings will be held to give 15 people $50,000 each for a total of 30 people. The remaining $15 million will then go to a large drawing on June 15th for large $1.5 million prizes for 10 already vaccinated Californians.
All winners will remain confidential according to the Governor.
CA is launching a $116.5 MILLION GIVEAWAY for vaccinated Californians!
$15 MILLION in cash prizes for 10 winners selected 6/15
$50k for winners on 6/4 & 6/11
Already vaccinated? You’re entered.
Not vaccinated? Next 2 million that get fully vaccinated can ALSO get a $50 card.
— Gavin Newsom (@GavinNewsom) May 27, 2021
Governor Newsom spearheaded the incentive program to raise the number of vaccinations in California, as daily vaccination figures have been falling in recent weeks.
“This last week, those first doses are way down,” said the Governor at a press conference on Thursday. “My goal is north of 70% of all eligible Californians by June 15th. We estimate that 12 million eligible Californians have not yet received a single dose of the vaccine.”
According to the California Department of Public Health, as of Thursday over 17 million people in California are now fully vaccinated, with another 4.3 million partially vaccinated. In total, this amounts to over half of California’s population. As Newsom’s goal of 70% is only a matter of weeks away, state officials hope that the incentive program will greatly increase the number of vaccinations in the next three weeks.
“Some Californians weren’t ready to get their COVID-19 vaccine on Day One, and that’s OK,” said California Department of Public Health Director Tomas Aragon on Thursday. “This program is designed to encourage those who need extra support to get vaccinated and help keep California safe.”
“This will reinforce the value of vaccination for all Californians, especially those in communities hit hardest by the pandemic,” added Newsom.
California follows lead of Ohio, New York in incentivizing vaccines
Newsom largely based his plan off of other states incentive programs such as Ohio and New York. Ohio currently offers a $1 million dollar lottery for vaccinated individuals, an effort that has already boosted vaccination rates in the state. New York’s efforts to give 50 full scholarships to 12-to-17-year-olds who get vaccinated have also also resulted in similar rate jumps. Other states, such as Colorado, Maryland, and Oregon have also instituted lotteries, but with no word yet on their success in getting more people vaccinated.
“States are desperate to improve their vaccination percentages right now right before the summer vacation season,” explained Mary Tomlinson, a COVID-19 vaccination researcher covering several Western states to the Globe on Thursday. “This is the idea they came up with. And, if successful, it may spread to other countries to get those who may be reluctant to get it.
“It’s giving people the possibility of money for something they may not be sure of or who maybe wanted to wait a bit longer. California’s announced today is particularly unfair to those that already got it as they missed out on those $50 gift cards, but it also targets people who need the money that badly who didn’t get the vaccine yet.”
“We’ll see what happens, but California really wants to hit herd immunity soon.”
Based on the success of the program, more incentives may come out after June 15th.
“We have more ideas coming after June 15, but we want to see how we do with this before June 15,” explained Governor Newsom. “I think the ultimate incentive is saving a life and the lives of loved ones.”
More details on the “Vax-A-Million” program can be found at covid19.ca.gov/vax-for-the-win.