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California launches a $116.5 million incentive program for COVID-19 vaccinations

Last Thursday, state officials announced the largest inoculation incentive in the nation.

By Megan Reyes, Staff Writer

Gov. Newsom implements a $116.5 million plan, incentivizing vaccines for Californians. (Graphic Illustration by Vickie Guzman/The Valley Star)

Gov. Gavin Newsom unveiled a $116.5 million plan incentivizing vaccinations for Californians who have not received the COVID-19 vaccine and rewarding those who have.

The $116.5 million vaccine incentive program is called “Vax for the Win” and has three different types of cash prizes. The biggest is a chance to win a $15 million cash prize, which will be split between 10 vaccinated Californians. The second reward is called “$50,000 Fridays,” which are cash drawings on June 4 and June 11 for 30 vaccinated Californians, totaling $1.5 million in prizes. The $50 gift cards are prepaid debit cards for the next 2 million new fully vaccinated residents. All residents who have had at least one COVID-19 dose will automatically be entered.

“These are real incentives,” said Newsom during his announcement on Thursday. “These are an opportunity to say thank you to those not only seeking to get vaccinated as we move forward, but also those that have been vaccinated since we first availed those opportunities a number of months ago.”

The winners of the $15 million reward will be announced on June 15, the $50,000 Fridays prizes will be revealed on June 4 and June 11 and the $50 cards — which started on May 27 — are only while supplies last. The card can be used in grocery stores or it can be a virtual card that can be spent online, in-store or added to a mobile wallet to be used to shop in-stores that accept mobile wallets.

According to the website, in order to qualify residents must be 12 years or older and have received at least a first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. Prize money will be given to winners after they have been fully vaccinated.

“Prospective winners can decline the award, or they can accept and remain anonymous, though they are permitted to make their award public” Newsom said in an LA Times article.

All California residents can participate, regardless of immigration status, with exceptions for people who are incarcerated and certain government employees.

“If there’s a way to help nudge people who are still just waiting to get vaccinated because it hasn’t been the most convenient time or they haven’t had time to schedule it, we’re hoping that these thank-you gifts remind them how important it is to come in,” said LA County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer in an LA Times article.


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