Gov. Gavin Newsom announced today California’s $116.5 million vaccine incentive program to boost vaccinations and ensure a safe reopening of the economy next month.
Vax for the Win provides a financial incentive for Californians that have been vaccinated and have plans to become vaccinated. Beginning May 27, the next two million people who start and complete their COVID-19 vaccination will automatically be eligible for a $50 prepaid or grocery store gift cards from Kroger or Albertsons and their affiliates. Californians will receive the cards through a text message with an electronic prepaid card redemption code within seven to 10 days of receiving their full vaccination. Those without a cell phone or email address can obtain a physical card by calling 1-833-993-3873.
The remaining $16.5 million is open to all vaccinated Californians who have received at least one dose. Timed to the state’s June 15 reopening, ten winners will each receive $1.5 million. Kids are part of the lottery too; if under 18, the cash will be put into a savings account until they are of age. In addition, 30 winners will win $50,000. The name drawings will occur on June 4 and June 11 and has the same rules as the grand prize.
“We hope to distribute all those dollars before June 15,” Newsom said. “These are an opportunity to say thank you to those not only seeking to get vaccinated as we move forward, but also those that have been vaccinated since we first availed those opportunities a number of months ago. This is all in effort to incentivize and build momentum and put a date with some expectation that by June 15, we’ll move north of that 70% threshold for adults and that we can significantly increase the number of 12 years old [and up] that are also eligible.”
Following in line with a trend first established by Krispy Kreme with free donuts, a number of states have started to offer various incentives to encourage residents to get the COVID-19 vaccine. According to NPR, nearly 40 percent of the United States population has been vaccinated. However, despite over half a million people dying from the virus, the number of people getting vaccinated has lagged in some areas.
Before California, 16 states set vaccine incentives to help with the vaccination lag, in addition to a number of specific counties and cities. In Ohio, all adults with at least one vaccine dose can enter the “Ohio Vax-a-Million” weekly drawing to win up to $1 million. Catering to the 21 and over crowd, the New Jersey Governor’s Office and Department of Health partnered with the Brewer’s Guild for the Shot and a Beer program. Anyone who gets their first dose throughout May can go to a participating brewery with proof of vaccination for a free beer.
President Joe Biden aims to have 70 percent of U.S. adults vaccinated by July 4, which is in line with researchers’ estimates that approximately 70 to 85 percent of the country needs to be immune to COVID-19 to stop it from spreading throughout communities. This goal will be helped by the fact that the vaccine became available to kids age 12 and older earlier this month.
California will fully reopen on June 15. It laid out its plans earlier this month to work toward removing social distancing and capacity requirements, though there will continue to be some guidance on masking. Secretary of health and human services Dr. Mark Ghaly confirmed on May 21 that the state is not considering a vaccine passport, but it recommending that large outdoor event venues and indoor venues with a capacity of 5,000 people and up verify if patrons are vaccinated or that they provide a negative test. Just over 40 percent of California’s total population has been vaccinated.
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