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Joining other states like New York and Colorado, California is launching its own vaccination incentive program with gift cards and cash prizes totaling $116.5 million.

On Thursday, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced that the state will give away $16.5 million in cash prizes  for Californians who get at least one vaccination shot by June 15. Most residents over the age of 12 will be eligible for the prize drawings, though they will be required to complete the vaccination series in order to claim prizes. In the event that a minor wins a cash prize, the state will hold winnings in a savings account until they reach the age of 18. 

Californians who have received at least one vaccine dose will be eligible for three cash drawings to be held in the month of June. On June 4 and June 11, the state will choose 15 winners on each date who will each receive $50,000. On June 15, 10 people will be selected to win $1.5 million each. 

Newsom said:

“These are real incentives. These are an opportunity to say thank you to those not only seeking to get vaccinated as we move forward, but also those that have been vaccinated.”

The big cash drawing falls on the same day that the state is scheduled to fully reopen. Newsom also hopes that 70 percent of the state’s population will have received at least one dose by then.

In addition to cash prize drawings, the California Thursday started giving away 2 million $50 gift cards on a first-come, first-serve basis for people who begin and complete the vaccination series. The cards can be redeemed as either a prepaid debit card or grocery card good at chains owned by Kroger or Albertsons. A redemption code will be sent by text or email within 10 days after people have completed their vaccination series.

Nearly 63 percent of all eligible Californians over the age of 12 have at least received one vaccine dose of the vaccine. However, officials say an estimated 12 million eligible residents have not been vaccinated at all.  

Looking beyond June 15, Newsom said the state is looking at other innovative ways to encourage people to get vaccinated.

Jerold Chinn
Jerold Chinn is the San Francisco Bureau Chief of SFBay. A San Francisco native, he has spent a decade covering transportation in San Francisco. Send tips to jerold@sfbay.ca or at Twitter @Jerold_Chinn.

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