East County News Service
May 27, 2021 (Sacramento) -- Governor Gavin Newsom today launched “Vax for the Win,” a new multi-faceted vaccine incentive program designed to motivate Californians to get their vaccination leading up to the state’s reopening on June 15. The incentives aim to give an extra nudge to those who still need to get vaccinated against COVID-19, especially those in hard-to-reach communities, while also thanking everyone who has already been vaccinated.
“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.”
More than 62.8 percent of Californians aged 12+ are at least partially vaccinated, but an estimated 12 million people who are eligible still have not gotten a vaccine to protect their health and the well-being of their communities.
“Some Californians weren’t ready to get their COVID-19 vaccine on day one, and that’s okay. This program is designed to encourage those who need extra support to get vaccinated and help keep California safe,” said Dr. Tomás J. Aragón, California Department of Public Health Director and State Public Health Officer. “The State will work closely with our partners at local health departments and community-based organizations to ensure the program reaches families living in communities with the lowest vaccination rates, who might face language barriers and other obstacles.”
All Californians aged 12+ who are at least partially vaccinated are automatically eligible for the cash prize drawings taking place in June. Thirty winners in total will be selected for the “$50,000 Fridays” cash prize drawings on June 4 and June 11, totaling $1.5 million. On June 15, $1.5 million will be awarded to 10 lucky Californians – for a grand total of $15 million in cash prizes. Winners must complete their vaccination in order to claim their prize. If someone under 18 wins, the cash will be put in a savings account for them until they turn 18.
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 or grocery card, worth a total of $100 million. It gives them the option to select from a $50 Virtual Prepaid Card (which can be spent online, in-store where major debit cards are accepted, or added to a mobile wallet to be used to shop in stores that accept mobile wallets), or a $50 grocery gift card from Kroger (which includes Ralphs, Food 4 Less and Foods Co.) or Albertsons (which includes Safeway, Albertsons, Vons, Pavilions and Andronico’s Community Markets), while supplies last. Californians 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, 7-10 days after receiving their final dose. Those without a permanent address can also call to coordinate delivery.
While the move has drawn praise from some public health officials, it also drew criticism from John Cox, a Republican running to replace Newsom in the upcoming recall election.
“Thousands of small businesses have closed. Thousands more are on the brink,” Cox said in a statement. “Millions of Californians have lost their jobs. Kids are sitting at home instead of in the classroom. Instead of addressing those issues, Gavin Newsom is spending more than $100 million to buy votes before the recall. This is 100 million more reasons that Gavin Newsom must be recalled.”
California is not the only state offering hefty financial incentives to boost vaccination rates. Ohio saw a 28 percent boost in vaccination rates after introducing its vaccine lottery program. New York and Maryland have since implemented vaccine lotteries, along with California.