OLYMPIA – All Washington residents who receive a COVID-19 vaccine will be entered into a lottery with four weekly drawings of $250,000 and one final $1 million prize, Gov. Jay Inslee announced Thursday.
The lottery is part of a larger vaccine incentive program that includes other prizes such as college tuition assistance, sports tickets, airline tickets and gift cards.
All residents who have been vaccinated already are eligible and don’t have to do anything to enter.
The drawings will come from the Department of Health’s vaccination database. Anyone else who wishes to become eligible only needs to get their first shot, Inslee said, but it may take up to three days for their name to appear in the DOH database.
“We are providing a shot of a lifetime in this incentive package,” Inslee said Thursday.
Inslee set a goal for 70% of people 16 and older to receive at least one dose. If the goal is met, the state can reopen before June 30 . As of Wednesday, almost 63% of people 16 and up have received at least one dose.
Inslee said the state will reopen on June 30 even if the state does not hit the 70% vaccination goal, but he is hoping these new vaccine initiatives will help the state get there sooner.
Starting Tuesday, the state lottery will conduct one $250,000 drawing every week for four weeks for all vaccinated individuals. At the end of the four weeks, on July 13, the lottery will conduct an additional, final drawing of $1 million.
The funding is a mixture of state funds and federal COVID-19 relief funds, but Washington State Lottery Director Marcus Glasper said the exact breakdown is still being worked out.
Glasper said each name in the vaccine database will be converted to a number, and the lottery’s random number generator will draw numbers each week. The department will then contact the winner who will have three days to claim their prize.
There will be two drawings every Tuesday: one for those over the age of 18 and one for those ages 12-17.
The state is offering higher education incentives. The state will give $1 million directly to the public four-year universities and two-year community and technical colleges. The institutions can run their own drawing for free tuition and expenses for vaccinated students. The state will offer 30 prizes of one year of tuition college credits for 12- to 17-year-olds.
The incentive program also includes ticket prizes from Alaska Airlines and the Seattle Mariners, Seattle Sounders, Seattle Storm, Seattle Seahawks, Seattle Kraken and OL Reign.
The Washington State Department of Commerce, the Association of Washington Business and local chambers of commerce will be handing out gift cards to local businesses at vaccine locations. The state Department of Health will hand out $500,000 in gift cards to retailers at its mobile vaccination clinics.
Technology companies also will give away software to those eligible, including Xbox, Microsoft GamePass, Nintendo Switch, Google Nest and Amazon Echo Dot.
Employees at the governor’s office, the Washington State Lottery and the Department of Health and their households are not eligible.
Secretary of Health Dr. Umair Shah said he hopes the incentive program will encourage people who are “still thinking about it or still on the fence.”
“We want to make sure you do everything you can to go ahead and get vaccinated today,” he said.
Washington joins a dozen other states and President Joe Biden in offering vaccinated residents cash prizes and incentives for getting vaccinated.
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine became the first when he announced last month a $1 million prize for five people 18 years and older who receive a COVID vaccine. Five people ages 12-17 will win a four-year, full-ride scholarship to an Ohio state college or university. According to the Ohio Department of Health, vaccinations for those 16 and older increased by 28% the weekend following the lottery announcement.
California is offering $1.5 million each for 10 residents who receive a vaccine while New Mexico is offering $10 million in prizes, including a $5 million grand prize.
Nationally, Anheuser-Busch said it would buy Americans 21 years and older a round of beer if Biden’s vaccination goal of 70% is met.
As of Wednesday, only 41% of the country was fully vaccinated.
Laurel Demkovich's reporting for The Spokesman-Review is funded in part by Report for America and by members of the Spokane community. This story can be republished by other organizations for free under a Creative Commons license. For more information on this, please contact our newspaper’s managing editor.
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