California offering millions of dollars in incentives to get vaccinated

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Millions of dollars worth of incentives are now available to Californians who’ve not yet been vaccinated against COVID-19. Last Thursday, two million $50 gift cards were made available on a first come, first served, basis for eligible individuals (anyone ages 12 and up) who receive a COVID-19 vaccine. “If you’re a family of four, do the math,” said Gov. Gavin Newsom. “If you’re a family of six, do the math.” Meanwhile, millions of dollars will be up for grabs in three drawings scheduled for June where the names of every Californian who has been vaccinated will be entered. All told, the state is putting up $116 million to incentivize vaccinations. As of Thursday, 37 million Californians — about two-thirds of all adults — have been vaccinated, but with the pace slowing in recent weeks, the ability of the state to reach the magic number touted by President Joe Biden and others — a 70 percent vaccination rate by July 4 — is not yet in reach. “We have seen a reduction in the number of people looking to get access to this vaccine,” said Newsom, who added that after 2.1 Californians were vaccinated three weeks ago, that number dropped to 2 million two weeks ago and 1.9 million people over the last seven days. “That’s not even close to where we were at peak, just shy of 3 million people over a seven-day period, so we’re starting to see a decline in the total number of doses administered on a weekly basis,” said Newsom. That is not as precipitous a decline as some other states have seen, he said, “but we are mindful that if we continue down this path and this trend, we’re not going to get where all of us need to be, and that is north of 70 percent of all eligible Californians getting administered doses of this life-saving vaccine.” Thus, last Thursday’s announcement of “the most significant incentive program in the United States of America,” as Newsom described it. “We’re putting aside more resources than any other state in America and we’re making available the largest prizes of any state in America for those that seek to get vaccinated.” The two million $50 gift cards — from Kroger, Albertsons or Mastercard — will be provided after eligible individuals receive their second dose of Pfizer or Moderna or single dose of Johnson & Johnson. “We hope to distribute all of those dollars before June 15 (the date California is scheduled to reopen completely),” said Newsom. “And we are prepared and we believe we will be ready for that June 15 reopening fully of the economy here in the state of California.” And while the state’s announcement of $100 million in gift cards aims to get people who’ve not yet been vaccinated to do so, there are prizes as well for those who already are vaccinated. “What about everybody else that did the right thing?” Newsom asked, “that two weeks ago, two months ago, took the time away from work, waited in a long line, maybe drove 50 miles into another county and got vaccinated and gave us the momentum that put us us in the position we are today with the lowest case rates and lowest positivity rates in America?” There are rewards for them as well. The names of every Californian who has received a COVID vaccine will be entered into drawings that will be held on June 4 and June 11, Newsom said. On each of those days, the state will pull the names of 15 individuals who will each receive $50,000. Then, on June 15, 10 individuals who have received at least one vaccine dose will each receive $1.5 million. Eligible winners include everyone ages 12 and up, though the $1.5 million prizes for minors will be held until their 18th birthdays. The names of winners will not be released publicly, Newsom said. “These are real incentives,” said Newsom. “These are an opportunity to say thank you to those not only seeking to get vaccinated as we move forward but also those who have been vaccinated …. “We’re doing it at a scale that’s never been done,” said Newsom. Find a vaccine at or call 1-833-422-4245 for help setting up an appointment.
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