New York joins other states in offering potential cash prizes to encourage vaccines

Starting on Monday, New York is giving individuals who have yet to get a COVID-19 vaccine up to 5 million reasons to get one.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Thursday the New York State Lottery will give people who get a shot at one of 10 sites statewide a free $20 Mega Multiplier scratch-off ticket. The tickets, which are also sold elsewhere in the state, offer a grand prize of $5 million.

The tickets are available to adults 18 and older who get either their first Pfizer shot or the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine. The sites, which will run from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., will accept both walk-ins and appointments.

Cuomo said getting more people vaccinated is the main goal behind “Vax-and-Scratch,” a pilot project. According to Johns Hopkins University of Medicine, 18.4 million doses have been administered statewide. Of those, 7.8 million or almost 40% of people have been fully vaccinated.

“The more New Yorkers we can get vaccinated, the better our situation and the faster we can return to a new normal, so I encourage everyone who hasn’t been vaccinated yet to go to your nearest site and get the shot,” Cuomo said.

New York is not the first to go this route to entice more people to get a shot. Last week, Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear unveiled an initiative with select Kroger and Walmart pharmacies that gave vaccine recipients a chance on a daily Kentucky Lottery game with a top prize of up to $225,000.

Then, Ohio announced it would give away five $1 million prizes to vaccinated adults. Gov. Mike DeWine said the state would use federal funds for the “Vax-a-Million” giveaway.

Last week, after DeWine’s announcement, Cuomo sounded skeptical about using money prizes, saying it was a tricky process.

“I’m not crazy about that idea because how about all the people who received the vaccine already,” Cuomo said.

On Thursday, he said the lottery giveaway was a case where everybody wins, regardless of what happens on their ticket.

“You have a one in nine chance of winning the lottery, but you get the vaccine and you win because if you get the vaccine then this goes your way,” Cuomo said as he held a mask in his hand.

After Cuomo made his announcement, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan announced a program where vaccinated residents could receive $40,000 in a daily drawing. The final drawing would take place July 4 with that winner getting a $400,000 prize.

This article was originally posted on New York joins other states in offering potential cash prizes to encourage vaccines

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