California to pay $116.5 million in gifts and cash to encourage people to get vaccinated

California residents will receive a text message with an electronic prepaid card redemption code sent to their mobile phone or email address 7-10 days after their two-dose series of Pfizer or Moderna, or single-dose of Johnson and Johnson.
FILE PHOTO: California Governor Gavin Newsom speaks at the opening of the country’s first federal and state operated community vaccination site during the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Los Angeles, California, U.S., February 16, 2021. REUTERS/Mike Blake/File Photo

LOS ANGELES – In hopes of getting more Californians vaccinated, Governor Gavin Newsom is introducing a historic $116.5 million vaccine incentive program. 

On Thursday Newsom launched “Vax for the Win,” a new vaccine incentive program designed to encourage Californians to get their vaccines before the state’s reopening on June 15. 

According to a statement from the state, beginning on May 27, the next two million people who begin and complete their COVID-19 vaccination will automatically be eligible to receive a $50 prepaid card or a grocery card.

California residents will receive a text message with an electronic prepaid card redemption code sent to their mobile phone or email address 7-10 days after their two-dose series of Pfizer or Moderna, or single-dose of Johnson and Johnson. An incentive card will be held for those who start their vaccination at the launch of the program. Those who do not have a mobile phone or email address can receive a physical card by calling 1-833-993-3873. Those without a permanent address can also call to coordinate delivery.

“Getting every eligible Californian vaccinated is how we bring our state roaring back from this pandemic,” said Governor Newsom. “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.”

In addition to $50 gift cards, 10 additional winners will be selected on June 15 to win cash prizes of $1.5 million each, totaling $15 million in cash prizes. 

Californians with at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine who are 12 years of age and older will be eligible to win. If someone under the age of 18 wins, the cash will be put in a savings account for them until they turn 18, the state said. 

Also as part of the Vax for the Win program, 30 winners will be selected to win a $50,000 cash prize each, with 15 winners selected on Friday, June 4 and another 15 winners selected on Friday, June 11 – totaling $1.5 million in cash prizes. Californians with at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine who are 12 years of age and older will be eligible to win.

To date California has administered more than 36 million COVID-19 vaccine doses. The state estimates there are now 12 million people who are eligible for the vaccine but have not yet been vaccinated against COVID-19.

“Here is the good news, California has the lowest positivity rate in America. California has the lowest cases rate in America. California has vaccinated more American than any other state in America,” the governor stated. 

The state plans to lift the mask mandate and physical distancing guidelines for fully vaccinated people by June 15 as the economy fully reopens. 

Meanwhile, the goal of President Biden is to get over 70% of eligible people vaccinated by July 4th weekend. 

Other states and businesses have also created an incentive program. 

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine launched a “Vax-a-Million” lottery contest to boost lagging vaccination rates, giving five $1 million prizes and college scholarships away each Wednesday for the next several weeks. The first winners were announced May 26, whose names were drawn from more than 1.5 million entrants and selected in a random drawing.

The concept worked…the number of people in Ohio age 16 and older who received their initial COVID-19 vaccine jumped 33% in the week after the state announced its million-dollar incentive lottery, according to an Associated Press analysis.

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