Jackpot offered for COVID-19 shots

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Jun. 11—TRIAD — If you haven't gotten a vaccination against COVID-19 yet, state officials hope that getting a chance at $1 million will convince you that it's time to get one.

And if you have already had one, don't worry, you still will get a shot at the cash.

Gov. Roy Cooper announced the "Your Shot at $1 Million Summer Cash Drawing" on Thursday, in which there will be four drawings from June 23 to Aug. 4 from the names of everyone in the state who has been vaccinated.

Those who already had been vaccinated before Thursday will be entered for all of the drawings. But those vaccinated on Thursday or afterward will have their names entered twice, he said. The last date to be vaccinated in time for the final drawing is Aug. 1.

Four people 18 or older will win a $1 million cash prize, and four who are 12 to 17 will win up to $125,000 each toward college tuition. Federal coronavirus relief funding will be used for the prizes, he said.

Cooper also said the state will expand a program offering a $25 gift card to people getting vaccinated. That program, so far limited to Guilford and three other counties, has had success, he said. Details of the expansion will come later.

The intention in both cases is to spur those who are either reluctant or just busy to either ask the questions they need to feel comfortable or find the time needed to go get the shot, he said. About 2.5 million North Carolinians have not yet been vaccinated against COVID-19.

"Vaccines are the key to beating this virus. They protect you and the people around you," so the cash incentives offer a win-win scenario, he said. "Regardless of who wins, there is no way to lose."

The decision to launch a lottery-style prize drawing came after watching other states experience success in boosting vaccination rates with cash drawings, said Dr. Mandy Cohen, the secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services. Ohio, for instance, saw vaccination rates increase by 28% in the two weeks after announcing its drawing.

Cooper said that the ongoing drop in COVID-19 infections, hospitalizations and deaths in North Carolina can be attributed to the increase in the number of people who are vaccinated, but he said a surge in infections and illness is still possible in places where vaccination rates are low.

"Our biggest concern is about the virus picking up among the unvaccinated," he said. "That's what we are trying to stem right now."

More information about the drawings is available online at summervaxcash.com.

Cooper's latest emergency orders regarding COVID-19 are set to expire Friday, and he said he will hold a press conference about that on Friday.

When asked by a reporter whether he would let the state of emergency lapse, as some governors said they would, he indicated he would not, saying that it helps the state gain access to federal money and resources to help efforts against the virus.

But Cooper declined to discuss specifics of what he will announce.

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