California to offer $116 mil in coronavirus vaccine prize money

California to give US$116.5 mil in prizes for vaccinations

California to give US$116.5 mil in prizes for vaccinations

California officials who have spent months urging residents to get vaccinated against the coronavirus now hope US$116.5 million in prizes will sweeten the deal.

All Californians 12 and up who are at least partially vaccinated will be eligible for the cash prize drawings taking place in June.

California launched a $116.5 million lottery to incentivize residents to get the COVID-19 shot.

On June 15, $1.5 million will be awarded to 10 people in the state for a total of $15 million in prizes.

In addition, the next two million residents to start and complete the vaccination process will receive a US$50 pre-paid grocery card, good for use at most of California's major grocery chains.

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"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.

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Newsom praised California residents who went out of their way to get their shots early. "And what we're seeing in the last week is a first dose drop-off, still steady on the second dose", he said. Forty% of white Californians are not vaccinated, according to state figures.

When asked by The Associated Press about how he would respond to criticism that this is "bad spending of public dollars", Newsom said, "I think the worst spending is burying your head in the sand and continuing to do what you've done and not achieve the goals of getting all of us back on our feet, keeping people healthy and safe".

Another 30 people will win $50,000 each, with those drawings starting June 4. And Maine has an incentive package that includes hunting and fishing licenses, as well as US$20 gift cards from L.L. Bean.

All this adds up to an incentive program that's a far cry from the single $1 million prize that was offered in OH, which ended up going to this 22-year-old woman living in a Cincinnati suburb.

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.

"The cost of people not getting vaccinated is exponentially, incalculably higher", he said. "We got to finish the job".

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