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In California, get vaccinated and win cash prizes up to $116.5 million

Representational image: California is offering the largest vaccine prize money of the US, $116.5 to get millions more inoculated (Pic: Courtesy universityofcalifornia.edu)

California is hopping on the trend of cash prizes for vaccinated individuals in the hope that the incentive will stimulate its plateauing vaccination rate.

Democrat governor of the California state, Gavin Newsom announced Thursday that the state is offering the largest vaccine prize money of the US, $116.5  to get millions more inoculated before the state's reopening next month, news agency AP reports.

Ten vaccinated residents 12 years and older will have the chance to win $1.5 million dollars apiece, and another 30 will win $50,000 each on June 4 and June 11. Anyone 12 and older who has received at least one shot will be eligible, even if they have already received their shot.

The state is also giving $50 grocery or prepaid gift cards to the next 2 million Californians who begin and complete their vaccination, starting Thursday.

Those prizes — along with 30 additional awards of $50,000 each — are open to Californians who have gotten at least one dose. Those who have previously received their shots will be entered into the drawings automatically, and there is no need to register, according to state officials.

“These are real incentives. 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,” Governor Gavin Newsom said Thursday.

The goal is to motivate roughly 12 million people who are eligible but not yet vaccinated, though the more than 20 million Californians already partially or fully vaccinated also are in the running for the most valuable prizes.

California joins a growing list of states offering incentives to boost vaccination rates.

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. The number of people signing up for shots jumped after Republican Gov. Mike DeWine announced the lottery, though it was still lower than earlier in the pandemic. Colorado and Oregon also offered $1 million prizes.

New York is providing  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.