NEW YORK (NewsNation Now) — As COVID-19 restrictions loosen nationwide, more states are using incentives to encourage residents to get vaccinated.
“I like to say that it feels like this is happening to a different person,” said Abbigail Bugenske, the first winner of Ohio’s first $1 million Vax-a-Million vaccination incentive prize.
The winner of a full college scholarship was 14-year-old Joseph Costello.
“I’m still kind of taking in the moment about it,” Joseph said.
“You don’t have anything to lose. You’re going to be vaccinated, and you might win a free ride to school,” said Collen Costello, Joseph’s mother.
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine told NewsNation the state’s vaccination rate was dropping before the lottery. Now shots are up about 45%.
“I felt, frankly, announcing winners once a week would continue the hype for a few weeks,” DeWine said.
Gov. Jared Polis unveiled the Colorado Comeback Cash Vaccine Drive, a five-week sweepstakes that will award five people $1 million each for getting a vaccine.
In New Mexico, officials are offering $10 million in cash and prizes through its Vax 2 the Max Sweepstakes.
Vaccinated New Mexicans who opt into the sweepstakes will be part of five weekly drawings that begin in mid-June. The weekly drawings will award one winner $250,000 from each of New Mexico’s four public health regions for a total of $1 million in cash prizes each week. A grand prize of $5 million will be awarded to one winner at the end of the sweepstakes in early August.
Rifle and shotgun giveaway
In West Virginia, Gov. Jim Justice announced Tuesday that a rifle and shotgun giveaway will be part of the state’s COVID-19 vaccine incentive program. The first lottery is scheduled for Sunday, June 20. The last lottery, on Aug. 4, will consist of two grand prize winners. One winner will take home $1,588,000, and another $588,000.
Scholarships and free tickets
“We will raffle off on a weekly basis full tuition room and board scholarships,” said New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
In New York, state-run vaccination sites are giving out scratch off lottery tickets with prizes up to $5 million.
“We’ll be entering anyone and everyone who gets vaccinated into a raffle to receive Knicks tickets,” said former New York Knicks player Allan Houston.
In California, Los Angeles County residents could win free NBA Lakers season tickets.
CVS Health also announced that beginning on June 1, they’ll offer newly-vaccinated Americans prizes, including cruises and Super Bowl tickets.
Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced that the state will give lottery tickets and gift certificates for hunting and fishing licenses to people who get the coronavirus vaccine.
Delaware is offering residents 12 and older who are vaccinated between May 25 to June 29 will be entered to win $5,000.
Other prizes include a four-day vacation, a full scholarship to a public Delaware university, annual Delaware State Parks passes, camping at Firefly Music Festival, and prize packages from partners like Funland, the Wilmington Blue Rocks and the Delmarva Shorebirds.
In Maryland, vaccinated residents 18 years and older will be automatically entered in a daily drawing to win a $40,000 prize. One person will win $400,000.
All of the efforts, part of persuading the reluctant, or enough of the reluctant, to get vaccinated. At least 70-percent, to reach herd immunity. If that goal isn’t reached, the next step is deciding whether to reimpose unpopular restrictions like mask-wearing and social distancing.
Until then: “We’re gonna be innovating constantly, ‘cause each additional New Yorker we get vaccinated is a step away from the covid era into our future,” said New York Mayor Bill de Blasio.
As for the immediate future, a big step toward a normal summer starts this weekend. If you’re vaccinated, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says you can enjoy the Memorial Day weekend holiday as you did pre-pandemic.