Coronavirus

California to offer $116M in coronavirus vaccine prize money

Nick Bloom, left, and Hollie Maloney, pharmacy technicians, fill syringes with Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine, Tuesday, March 2, 2021, at the Portland Expo in Portland, Maine. The Expo location, operated by Northern Light Health, is one of two mass vaccination sites that opened in Maine this week. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Californians will be eligible for $116.5 million in prize money for getting coronavirus shots, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Thursday, a windfall aimed at getting millions more vaccinated before the nation’s most populous state fully reopens next month.

The state estimates about 12 million Californians 12 and older have not been vaccinated. About 63% of the 34 million eligible have gotten shots, though the pace has slowed markedly in recent weeks as infection rates have plummeted to record lows.

California isn’t the first state to offer vaccine prizes, though its pot of money is the largest, and so is the most valuable single prize: $1.5 million. The state’s reopening is pegged for June 15, and on that day a drawing will be held to award 10 vaccinated people the top prize .

Another 30 people will win $50,000 each, with those drawings starting June 4. Anyone 12 and older who has received at least one shot will be eligible. And the next 2 million people who get vaccinated will get $50 gift cards.

Ohio this week announced the first $1 million winner of its “Vax-a-Million” contest, as well as the first child to win a full college scholarship. Colorado and Oregon also offered $1 million prizes.

New York is raffling 50 full scholarships to children 12 to 17 to public universities and colleges in the state, selecting 10 winners each of the next five Wednesdays.

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