Johanna Alonso//May 20, 2021
//May 20, 2021
Maryland has a new strategy for persuading residents to get their COVID-19 vaccine — and it’s a gamble.
The state’s Department of Health is teaming up with the Maryland Lottery to enter all Maryland residents at least 18 years old who have received at least their first vaccine dose into a lottery to win thousands of dollars, Gov. Larry Hogan announced at a Thursday news conference.
Winners of the $40,000 prize will be randomly chosen each day for 40 days; the winner selected on the last day of the contest, the Fourth of July, will win a grand prize of $400,000. A total of $2 million will be distributed, and the money will come out of the Maryland Lottery’s marketing budget.
With 67% of its adult population — and 87% of those 65 and older — having received at least their first shot, Maryland is vaccinating its population at faster rates than the nation as a whole, Hogan said. The promotion, called VaxCash, aims to persuade those who are still hesitant to get a vaccine.
“Our mission is to ensure that no arm is left behind, and we’re committed to leaving no stone unturned, and we’re using every resource at our disposal to achieve that goal,” he said.
This isn’t the first campaign Hogan has introduced in hopes of incentivizing Marylanders to get vaccinated. Early this month, the governor announced that state employees who have received a COVID-19 vaccine are eligible for a $100 bonus, and Hogan encouraged Maryland businesses to offer incentives to people who have been vaccinated. A week ago, Ledo Pizza announced that it would give away a small cheese pizza to anyone who got vaccinated in May or June — up to 10,000 pies.
Ohio and Kentucky have already launched promotions, colloquially known as “shotteries,” offering big cash prizes to residents who have gotten their inoculation.
Kentuckians who were vaccinated at participating locations throughout May were given coupons for lottery tickets for the Kentucky Cash Ball, which has a grand prize of $225,000. In Ohio, all residents 18 and older who have received a vaccine in or out of the state were invited to enter for the chance to win one of five $1 million prizes.
Unlike in those states, though, all Marylanders who have been vaccinated within the state will automatically be entered for a chance to win, using the Maryland Department of Health’s records. Each individual will receive one entry, regardless of whether they have received two doses or only one.
In order to protect people’s health information, everyone who has been vaccinated with be assigned a number, which will then be selected using a random number generator; from there, the Department of Health will contact the winners.
Like all Maryland lottery winners, awardees will be allowed to remain anonymous if they so choose.
Although the daily prizes are smaller than Ohio’s whopping $1 million prizes, Hogan said he hopes they will encourage people to continue getting vaccinated throughout the coming month.
“If you get the shot today, tomorrow you’ll be entered into the drawing, we’ll do it that fast,” he said. “Get vaccinated even on July 3 and you should have a chance at the $400,000 on the Fourth of July.”
In Ohio, the promotion seemed to prove successful, with vaccination rates improving by 6% in the 30-74 age category, whereas previously they were on the decline, NBC reported.
Gordon Medenica, the state’s lottery and gaming director who last month announced that he would retire June 1, said he is hopeful that this promotion will also benefit the Maryland Lottery. In Kentucky, he said, the exposure the program drummed up has already covered its cost.
The first drawing will occur Tuesday, May 25, and Marylanders are encouraged to get vaccinated as quickly as possible so that they are entered into all 40 drawings.
“Get your shot for a shot to win,” Hogan said.