California offers $1.5m lottery jackpot for people getting COVID vaccine

People in California are being offered the chance to win a $1.5m (£1.06m) lottery prize if they get a coronavirus vaccine.

Ten vaccinated residents will be given the jackpot prize when the state fully reopens on 15 June, governor Gavin Newsom said on Thursday.

Anyone over the age of 12 who has not been vaccinated or has only had one dose can apply for the $116.5m draw, which is the largest so far in the US.

Officials hope that it will encourage the 12 million people who are eligible but not yet vaccinated in California to come forward for their COVID-19 jabs.

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Pic: AP
Image:California Governor Gavin Newsom. Pic: AP

The state is also handing out 30 $50,000 dollar prizes in a draw on 4 June.

And the next two million people to come forward for jabs are also being offered $50 gift cards to use in shops and supermarkets.

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Mr Newsom said he hopes to give out all of the gift cards by 15 June – which would mean another two million Californians vaccinated by the time all business reopen and rules around masks and social distancing are relaxed.

The cash prizes will be funded by California’s disaster response account, which will then be reimbursed by federal coronavirus relief money, Mr Newsom’s spokeswoman Amelia Matier said.

He has defended the use of public funds by saying the “cost of not getting vaccinated is exponentially, incalculably higher”.

Governor Gavin Newsom (left) at a school in Los Angeles. Pic: AP
Image:Governor Gavin Newsom (left) at a school in Los Angeles. Pic: AP

The governor visited a high school in Los Angeles on Thursday to make the announcement after a drop in numbers coming forward for their first jabs over the past week.

Around 63% of California’s population aged 12 and over have had at least one dose.

Other states have also been offering money for jabs, with Ohio launching a “Vax-a-Million” contest and New York handing out scholarships to children.

Mark Gibson

Graduates in Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois 1990. Move to Los Angeles California in 2004. Specialized in Internet journalism.

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