$50 INCENTIVE CARDS FOR THE NEXT 2 MILLION VACCINATED CALIFORNIANS: Beginning May 27, the next two million people who begin and then complete their COVID-19 vaccination will automatically be eligible for a $50 Virtual Prepaid Card (which can be spent online, in-store where major debit cards are accepted, or added to a mobile wallet), or a $50 grocery gift card for Kroger (Ralphs, Food 4 Less, Foods Co.) or Albertsons.
Californians who have already received the vaccine will automatically be entered to win cash prizes.
Following the lead of states including New York, Oregon and OH, the Golden State State is the latest to implement an incentive system to boost vaccinations and ensure a safe reopening, which is scheduled for June 15.
"This program is created to encourage those who need extra support to get vaccinated and help keep California safe", Dr. Tomás J. Aragón, director of the state's department of public health, said in a statement.
Ten vaccinated residents will have the chance to win $1.5 million each, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Thursday.
On Wednesday, Ohio awarded $1 million U.S. to Abbigail Bugenske, a Silverton woman who entered the state's Vax-a-Million drawing.
Los Angeles County, home of about 10 million people, on Friday will start a separate prize program: the opportunity for season tickets to the Los Angeles Kings hockey team or Los Angeles Galaxy soccer club.
NY 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.
With those ages 12 to 15 newly able to receive the Pfizer vaccine, California officials estimate there are now 12 million people who are eligible and have not taken the shot yet.
On Wednesday, Ohio, which popularized the idea, announced the first victor of its much-anticipated "Vaxx-a-Million" sweepstakes, which ultimately will award $1 million each to five residents who have received at least one COVID-19 vaccine shot. This is also meant as a way to help communities in hard-to-reach locations and to help communities hardest hit by the pandemic.
California uses a "vaccine equity metric" to track vaccination progress that splits zip codes into four quartiles from least to most advantaged.
Also, he warned, "Don't go back and get vaccinated again". California was vaccinated 3 million people at the peak last month, but that has declined to 1.9 million per week, with a lot of those being second doses.
Among all Latinos, 57% are not yet vaccinated. Forty% of white Californians are not vaccinated, according to state figures.