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First Lady Donna Edwards, left, and Governor John Bel Edwards unveil a giant check as it is announced that Louisiana will participate in a lottery, giving cash prizes and scholarships to residents who have been vaccinated against coronavirus.

Louisiana capped off its vaccine lottery incentive Friday by awarding a whopping $1 million grand prize and five $100,000 scholarships. 

Janet Mann, 63, a retired school teacher from Bossier City, won the $1 million grand prize.

The winners of the $100,000 scholarships include:

  • Emily Guillet, 13, of Baton Rouge
  • Emma Fisackerly, 16, of New Orleans
  • Gavin Harrington, 13, of Rosedale
  • Jackson Page, 17, of New Orleans
  • MacKenzie Rigdon, 15, of Metairie

Louisiana doled out $2.3 million in prizes over the last six weeks in an effort to boost the state's lagging vaccination rate. Just as the incentive kicked off, the state entered its latest and worst COVID-19 surge.

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Hospitals are overwhelmed with more coronavirus patients than ever before. Some 91% of those patients are unvaccinated, an extraordinary testament to the power of the vaccines at protecting against serious illness, according to data from the Louisiana Department of Health. 

"Within your families, your communities, your schools, please be an ambassador for the vaccination program," Edwards said to the scholarship winners. "They're safe. They're effective. There are more than 1400 locations where people can get them."

The Shot At A Million campaign started June 21 and was open to anyone 12 and older with at least one vaccine shot. Registration for the final drawing ended July 31 with 902,758 contenders signing up. 

"I appreciate it so much. I'm still in shock I think," Mann said when called by Edwards.

COVID-19 tests and vaccinations remain free to anyone, with or without medical insurance. Find testing sites and vaccination clinics near you by visiting ldh.la.gov.


Email Blake Paterson at bpaterson@theadvocate.com and follow him on Twitter @blakepater