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Stacey Ballard, left, receives the first dose of her Pfizer vaccine from Registered Nurse Kathy McDowell at the Baton Rouge Clinic on Perkins Road Monday June 21, 2021, in Baton Rouge, La. Registration began Monday for shot recipients to possibly win $1,000,000 in a state sponsored drawing just for getting vaccinated.

A total 160,376 signed up to participate Monday to win prizes up $1 million as part of the Shot At A Million campaign that the state launched to reward residents who have been – or soon will be – vaccinated against COVID-19.

Registration for the drawings began at noon and 61,580 people had signed up in the first hour for the campaign totaling $2.3 million in cash and scholarship giveaways designed to reward residents who have taken or who choose to get their COVID-19 vaccine.

For a while, the Louisiana Department of Health were receiving about 500 sign-ups per minute and the department crossed the 100,000 mark by 2 p.m., said Kevin Litten, a department spokesperson.

It’s part of the initiative to get more Louisiana residents to voluntarily take the shots that are 86% to 95% effective against the coronavirus variants that killed 601,000 Americans in the past year, including 10,688 people from Louisiana.

But Louisiana, like much of the Deep South, still lags behind the nation – where 45.6% of the population is fully vaccinated – with only 33.7% who have received the shots. Louisiana is ahead of neighboring Arkansas (33%) and Mississippi (28.9%), while behind Texas at 39.7% of its residents having received the shot. Four out of 10 Republicans say they do not plan to get a vaccine, according to the latest Public Broadcasting Service NewsHour/National Public Radio/Marist poll released last week.

As of Monday, 1,566,120 Louisiana residents are fully vaccinated and a total of 1,726,785 Louisiana residents have taken at least one dose, according to Louisiana Department of Health data.

All Louisiana residents, ages 12 and up, who have received at least one dose of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccines or have received the single-shot Johnson and Johnson vaccine are eligible to enter the sweepstakes. Residents of the state are eligible, even if they received their vaccinations elsewhere, such as college students attending school outside Louisiana. 

Residents have 18 more days to get their first shot and register for the first two Shot At A Million prizes, $100,000 in cash and one $100,000 scholarship, which will be announced July 14. New winners will be announced each week after that, culminating with the grand prize winners, who must register by July 31. People only have to register one time to be included in each subsequent weekly drawing and those who are already vaccinated against COVID-19 are eligible, in addition to any resident who chooses to get at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine over the next six weeks.

The Board of Ethics rules forbid a number of Office of Public Health and Health Department employees from participating in The Shot At A Million Promotion. Additionally, any employee in the Office of the Governor as well as Division of Administration leadership and agency cabinet secretaries can’t participate, along with pretty much any state employee or contractor that had any task dealing with the contest.

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Though the odds are still long, a person registering for the vaccination lottery has about a three-times greater chance of winning the $1 million prize than taking home the Louisiana Lotto jackpot, according the Louisiana Lottery Corp.

Louisiana will have four weekly drawings for a $100,000 scholarship and a $100,000 cash prize each week. The final grand prize drawing on August 4 will award a $1 million cash award, paid using federal COVID outreach dollars.

Schedule of drawings:

  • Enter by July 9, 2021 by 11:59 p.m. CDT for the July 14 drawing
  • Enter by July 16, 2021 by 11:59 p.m. CDT for the July 21 drawing
  • Enter by July 23, 2021 by 11:59 p.m. CDT for the July 28 drawing
  • Enter by July 30, 2021 by 11:59 p.m. CDT for the August 4 drawing
  • Enter by July 31, 2021 by 11:59 p.m. CDT for the August 4 Grand Prize Drawing

Winners will be announced two days after the drawing to allow time to confirm vaccination status. The Grand Prize winners will be announced on August 13.

Registration for Louisiana’s Shot At A Million lottery began Monday, either online at ShotAtAMillion.com or via a toll-free hotline at (877) 356-1511.

Email Mark Ballard at mballard@theadvocate.com.