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Michigan launching $5M sweepstakes to boost vaccinations

$100 bills
Tomasz Zajda
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About $5 million in cash and college scholarships will be given away in lottery-style drawings aimed at raising Michigan’s COVID-19 vaccination rate, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced Thursday.

The incentive program features a $2 million jackpot, a $1 million prize and 30 daily drawings of $50,000 for residents ages 18 and older who have gotten at least one shot. Vaccinated residents ages 12 to 17 are eligible for one of nine four-year prepaid tuition contracts valued at $55,000.

The MI Shot to Win Sweepstakes is being launched after several states, including Ohio, offered millions of dollars to boost vaccinations — with mixed results. Whitmer called it a “great way” to urge people to be vaccinated to protect themselves and their families, and to help get life back to normal.

Nearly 62% of Michigan residents ages 16 and up have received at least one dose, ranking it near the middle among states, as infections have plummeted. Whitmer and state health officials want 70% vaccinated, which would require about 678,000 additional people to get a shot.

The weekly number of first doses administered has dropped for five straight weeks and was roughly 36,000 last week, 9% of the high from early April when Michigan opened eligibility to everyone age 16 or older.

The sweepstakes is being operated by Meijer and the Michigan Association of United Ways. The state will fund the raffles with federal coronavirus relief aid that was allocated to Michigan.

Starting Thursday, residents who want to participate can sign up at www.MIShotToWin.com. All vaccinated individuals will be eligible for the $2 million and $1 million drawings. Only residents who become newly vaccinated can vie for the $50,000 daily prizes.

Vaccine lotteries in other states have shown they are “very effective at getting more people vaccinated very quickly,” said Kerry Ebersole Singh, director of the Protect Michigan Commission, which promotes the vaccine’s effectiveness and works to overcome hesitancy.

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