In a bid to boost the flagging COVID-19 vaccination rate in California, the state has announced the most enormous cash price vaccine incentive in the country – $116.5 million!

The lottery, dubbed “Vax for the Win,” was announced on Thursday, May 27th, by Governor Gavin Newsom, including an opportunity for 10 Californians to receive $1.5 million each.

The goal of the multi-million dollar giveaway is to motivate 12 million residents who are eligible but have not yet vaccinated to take their shot as the state’s vaccine rollout enters its crucial stage.

How Does The State Plan To Spend This $116M?

Announcing at  East Los Angeles high school where vaccination was taking place, Newsom stated that California made available the most significant prizes compared to other states in America.

In addition to the grand prize, the state is also giving 2 million people who begin and finish their vaccine series $50 gift cards for general use or at specific grocery stores and supermarkets such as Ralphs, Albertsons, Food 4 Less, and Pavilions.

Ten people who have been vaccinated will be awarded the top prize of $1.5 million each at a draw that will be held on June 15. In another draw on June 4 and June 11, 30 people will win $50,000 each.

The spending aims to ensure that more than 70% of eligible people are inoculated before June 15. When the state will lift coronavirus restrictions, relax social distancing requirements, and masking.

Those eligible for the lottery include all California residents irrespective of their immigration status. However, exceptions exist, such as incarcerated and government employees, public health workers, and workers at the California State Lottery.

Where Will the State Source the Funds?

The total size of the California incentive program stands at $116.5 million. The cash will come from California’s general fund and the pandemic disaster relief funds.  Governor Newsom plans to replenish using a portion of the $27 billion federal COVID-19 relief funds approved by President Joe Biden.

Despite criticism of incentivizing with such an amount of money, Governor Newsom believes it’s costlier not to be vaccinated. If the chance to win something can get more people to be vaccinated, then it’s worth it.

As a large part of the state is being vaccinated,  infection rates have fallen drastically. 

What Are Other States Doing?

California is following the steps of other states that have offered incentives to boost vaccination rates.

Ohio grabbed headlines with its “Vax-a-Million” reward program, offering over $1 million prizes and four years of college scholarships to residents of the state. 

The lottery program caused a jump in vaccination rates days after it was announced. Last week, Ohio announced its first winner to receive $1 million.

New York offers 50 full scholarships to children between the ages of 12 and 17 to the state’s public universities and colleges, with ten winners selected every Wednesday for five weeks.  

Colorado and Oregon have also joined in offering $1 million prizes weekly to incentivize COVID-19 vaccination.

New Ideas Required to Boost Vaccination Numbers

About two-thirds of eligible Californians have so far received a shot. Still, in the last few weeks, figures have been falling. 

The need for vaccination to protect Californians against any potential increases in transmission has become extremely important as the June 15 full reopening date approaches.

It is essential people get vaccinated as soon as possible. The lottery would serve as the perfect incentive for this, considering how well it has performed in other states.

California’s usage of cash prizes to encourage vaccination marks a significant turnaround. The state government hopes that the incentives will accelerate the willingness of residents to get inoculated quickly. 

Conclusion

The need for vaccine payout incentives has never been more important than now, as numbers are dwindling all over the country. Messaging should switch from talking about the vulnerability of the elderly to encouraging everyone to take the vaccine. 

While people protect themselves and their families against COVID-19, it is good to know that they can win cash prizes in doing that. If you’ve any questions about vaccination, you can speak to a Doctor on Medicwell.


Jennifer Billings is the Medical Editor at National Coronavirus Hotline(NCH). She is an Integrated medical doctor who has been published on NCH Blog, Medium.com and is a regular contributor at MedCity News, Physician Family, and Psychology Today.