Louisiana residents who get a COVID-19 vaccine by the end of July will be eligible to enter to win a $1 million jackpot, Gov. John Bel Edwards said Thursday.
It's one of 14 cash prizes and scholarship awards totaling $2.3 million that Louisiana will dole out in weekly drawings beginning next month as part of a campaign to juice the state's dismal vaccination rate. But any Louisiana resident who has received at least one dose of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccines or the single-dose Johnson & Johnson shot is eligible for the lottery.
Louisiana will award nine $100,000 scholarships to winners age 12 to 17, along with four $100,000 cash prizes and one $1 million award for those age 18 and older. The first of five weekly drawings will begin on July 14.
First Lady Donna Edwards, left, and Governor John Bel Edwards, right, unveil a giant check as it is announced that Louisiana will participate …
“We need more people to go sleeves up before we can truly end the pandemic,” Edwards said Thursday, standing next to a giant fake check. “'Shot At A Million' is a reward for those who’ve already gotten vaccinated and a fun nudge for others to get the vaccine sooner rather than later.”
Registration for the drawings begins Monday at noon and is limited to Louisiana residents who have received at least one shot. The sign-up is available through the state's shotatamillion.com website or by calling 1-877-356-1511 once registration begins.
"Everyone starts out a winner because in order to participate, you have to get your shot," Edwards said after being ushered in by a New Orleans brass band. "The good times are beginning to roll again."
The Democrat governor said he hopes the cash incentive – which mirrors those introduced in states like Ohio, California and Kentucky – will push those who haven't felt the urgency of getting vaccinated to finally take the jump.
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Louisiana remains at the bottom of the pack in terms of vaccination rates, with just over 37 percent of its population – or 1.7 million residents – having received at least one dose. That includes 47 percent of adults, a number that nationally hovers around 65 percent.
A person only needs to sign up once to be entered into all five weeks of drawings, which will be handled by the Louisiana Lottery Corporation and paid with federal coronavirus relief aid.
Each of the first four weeks will see two drawings: one for a $100,000 college scholarship and one for a $100,000 cash prize. The fifth week will see drawings for the $1 million grand prize and for five $100,000 scholarships.
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The roll-out of the cash incentive comes as the more transmissible and virulent delta variant begins to take hold in the United States. First identified in India, the strain has caused a surge in cases in the United Kingdom, and public health officials worry it may wreak similar havoc in places like Louisiana with lagging vaccination rates.
"When lives are on the line, you want to try everything," said Dr. Joe Kanter, the state health officer. "That’s the bottom line."
There are more than 1,500 locations statewide where residents can receive one of three safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine. The live-saving jabs are free-of-charge and many providers offer walk-in appointments. For questions on the vaccine or assistance in setting up an appointment, the state set up a hotline at 1.855.453.0774.
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