California awards $50,000 in prize money to 15 more vaccinated residents

SAN DIEGO (KUSI) – State officials awarded $50,000 prizes Friday to another 15 vaccinated residents as part of a financial-incentive program to encourage inoculations against COVID-19, with Gov. Gavin Newsom set to be in San Diego with one of last week’s winners to help announce the new lucky residents.

The prizes are part of a $116.5 million “Vax for the Win” incentive program announced by Newsom in hopes of luring people to get the COVID-19 shots.

Under the program, $50 gift or grocery cards were being awarded to 2 million people who get their first dose of vaccine. Last Friday, 15 winners were chosen to receive the first round of $50,000 prizes. The winners included three each from Los Angeles and San Diego counties, and one from Orange County.

Footage from last Friday’s drawing:

Another 15 winners will be picked Friday. During his appearance in San Diego, Newsom is also expected to announce partnerships with other businesses in an effort to continue providing incentives for people to get vaccinated.

On Tuesday, the day California lifts the bulk of its COVID-19 restrictions, the state will pick 10 winners who will receive $1.5 million each.

Almost everyone in the state who has received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine is eligible for the drawing. However, to actually receive the money, winners will have to complete the vaccination protocol by receiving their second dose, unless they received the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

According to the governor’s office, there has been a 13% week-over- week increase in vaccine administration in the state, making California one of the only states in the nation to see an uptick.

Newsom, taking on the roll of game-show host, presided over last Friday’s selection of the first 15 $50,000 winners.

For that drawing, there were 21.5 million eligible California residents. That pool was randomly pared down to 200, then winnowed to 50. The final selection was done using a Bingo-style machine, with 50 numbered balls dropping into a twirling cylinder, from which the 15 winners were chosen.

None of the winners were identified by name, only by county, in order to maintain privacy. Winners are contacted by telephone. If any of the 15 chosen winners turned out to be ineligible — such as being employed by the governor’s office or being incarcerated — those remaining in the pool of 50 finalists is used to choose alternates.

Dr. Mark Ghaly, the state’s Health and Human Services secretary, said Wednesday that 65% of California residents have received at least one dose of vaccine, while 53% are fully vaccinated.

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