Cash, guns and trucks: West Virginia launches COVID-19 vaccine incentive lottery
In an effort to incentivize people to get the COVID-19 vaccine, West Virginia is launching a lottery that offers a plethora of prizes including a grand prize of $1.5 million, as well as smaller prizes such as custom trucks, weekend trips and guns.
On Tuesday, Gov. Jim Justice and members of the West Virginia COVID-19 pandemic response leadership team announced the vaccination incentive lottery will run between June 20 - Aug. 4.
"The faster we get people across the finish line the more lives we save. That’s all there is to it," Justice said. "If the tab just keeps running the cost is enormous. The hospitalizations are enormous. We have to get all of our folks across the finish line."
A website will be set up which will allow vaccinated people to register and enter their name for a chance to win one of the prizes, which include: "$1.588 million grand prize, a $588,000 second prize, full scholarships to any higher education institution in West Virginia, custom-outfitted trucks, weekend vacations at state parks, lifetime hunting and fishing licenses, custom hunting rifles and custom hunting shotguns," according to a news release from the governor’s office.
West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice during a COVID-19 update on June 1.
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As of June 2, 51.2% of adults in West Virginia have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, according to the state health department’s COVID-19 dashboard. About 41.2% of adults have been fully vaccinated.
West Virginia is joining a number of states using cash and prizes to incentivize people to get the vaccine as cases drop and vaccination rates start to dwindle.
Both Colorado and Ohio are offering five $1 million prizes with drawings every week. Companies like Samuel Adams, Budweiser and Krispy Kreme are offering free doughnuts and beers for anyone who can show proof of getting the COVID-19 vaccine.
President Joe Biden on Wednesday was set to announce a "month of action" to urge more Americans to get vaccinated before the July 4 holiday, including an early summer sprint of incentives and a slew of new steps to ease barriers and make getting shots more appealing to those who haven't received them. He is closing in on his goal of getting 70% of adults at least partially vaccinated by Independence Day — essential to his aim of returning the nation to something approaching a pre-pandemic sense of normalcy this summer.
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"We’re looking at June as a critical month in our path to normal and as a critical month in order to continue the progress we’re making in our vaccination campaign," Courtney Rowe, the director of strategic communications and engagement for the White House COVID-19 response team, told the AP.
The White House said Biden's plan will continue to use public and private-sector partnerships, mirroring the "whole of government" effort he deployed to make vaccines more widely available after he took office.
Additionally, the White House is partnering with early childhood centers such as KinderCare, Learning Care Group, Bright Horizons and more than 500 YMCAs to provide free childcare coverage for Americans looking for shots or needing assistance while recovering from side effects.
To date, 62.8% of the adult U.S. population have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and 133.6 million are fully vaccinated. The rate of new vaccinations has slowed to an average below 600,000 per day, down from more than 800,000 when incentives like lotteries were announced, and down from a peak of nearly 2 million per day in early April when demand for shots was much higher.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.