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Michigan hopes $5 million vaccine lottery inspires more people to get shots

Whitmer
(Courtesy)

Aug. 3: Michigan spent $5M on vaccine lottery, fell well shy of 70 percent goal
July 14: 
Michigan vaccine lottery has first winners. But inoculation rates still flat.
July 7: Is the Michigan vaccine lottery working? Depends how you define success.

Michigan’s vaccinated residents will get the chance to win up to $2 million under details of a vaccine lottery rolled out Thursday.

The “MI Shot to Win Sweepstakes” will include a $2 million grand prize, a $1 million prize and 30 separate $50,000 daily prizes to those who have gotten at least one dose of the vaccine, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said during a Lansing press conference.

 

The prizes will be paid for with federal coronavirus funding, a Whitmer spokesperson said.

Related:

The first daily drawing for the $50,000 prizes is July 6, the $1 million drawing will take place on July 11 and the $2 million on Aug. 4. No announcements will be made until July 12, when six daily winners and the $1 million winner will be announced.

Michigan has seen the rate of new vaccinations stall in the past two months and Whitmer acknowledged rising concerns about the more transmissible Delta variant that is spreading in Michigan, the nation and the world.

“Now, the reason behind (the) sweepstakes is simple. We want to keep Michiganders safe,” Whitmer said. “We need to incentivize more of us to go and get vaccinated.”

Residents 12 to 17 who have gotten at least one dose of vaccine will be eligible for nine four-year scholarships, covering tuition and mandatory fees, at the state’s 15 four-year institutions. The scholarships are valued at $55,000.

Over the past three weeks, an average of 45,000 people have started the vaccine regimen, compared to an average of 103,000 in early June and 243,000 in early May.

 

More than 3.5 million Michigan residents eligible for the vaccine have not gotten any doses of the vaccine and in some areas of the state, in both urban and rural areas, the vaccination rate is 20 to 30 percentage points below the state’s overall rate of 61.8 percent.

The announcement also follows more than two months after other states offered similar incentives, including five $1 million jackpots in neighboring Ohio.

Whitmer has long sought to get 70 percent of state residents 16 and older vaccinated and she said she hopes the lottery encourages at least 700,000 more to get vaccinated, pushing the state above 70 percent and making the state safer as it emerges from restrictions designed to limit the spread of COVID-19.

“Today's announcement is an exciting step toward accomplishing our goals of getting more people vaccinated, getting everyone back to work and getting this economy invigorated,” Whitmer said.

To be eligible, residents must enroll in the sweepstakes at MIShotToWin.com or call (888) 535-6136 and it covers anyone who has gotten at least one shot since Dec. 1 and through the date of the lottery drawings. You must know your date of your vaccination, which is on the card you would have gotten at the time of vaccination.

Vaccinations will be verified against the state’s vaccine registry. Yet tens of thousands of Michigan residents have been vaccinated in other states which are not required to notify Michigan Care Improvement Registry.

People who have been vaccinated elsewhere are encouraged to notify their Michigan doctors or their local health department which can update the MCIR system, making them eligible for the sweepstakes, said Kerry Ebersole Singh, director of the Protect Michigan Commission, which Whitmer created in January.

The state worked on the sweepstakes with the Meijer grocery chain and other partners, including the Michigan Association of United Ways, the Michigan Chamber of Commerce, Small Business Association of Michigan, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, Michigan Association of State Universities, Small Business Association of Michigan, Business Leaders of Michigan, the Protect Michigan Commission and others.

Ohio’s “vax-a-million” lottery was credited for creating a short surge of vaccinations, but Ohio currently lags Michigan in vaccination rate, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In late May, as other states were rolling out the incentives, Whitmer said the state constitution prohibited Michigan from having a lottery. On Thursday she said the state worked to find a way to offer incentives without violating state laws.

The announcement also comes as top state officials have warned the state faces a potential surge if the more transmissible Delta variant, which has been detected in 15 Michigan counties, becomes more prevalent as they expect.

Experts say the existing vaccines protect against the variant — but people with just one dose are more susceptible to becoming infected.

“If you've not gotten the vaccine yet,” Whitmer said. “The virus is still a very real threat to you.”

States from California and Oregon to Illinois and Maryland had joined Ohio to offer big-money lotteries to boost inoculation rates.

Experts say it’s too early to tell if they are working, since many were rolled out as vaccines became available to younger residents. 

In Louisiana, for instance, more than 466,000 residents have registered for vaccinations in the one week since a $2.3 million lottery was announced last week, according to news reports. 

But Ohio, which pioneered the lottery, in recent weeks has focused more on smaller incentives such as $25 gift cards to target smaller groups of residents.

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