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US states offer cash incentives for Covid vaccinations

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A woman walks out of a vaccination center in Miami after getting a second dose of Covid-19 vaccine./AFP
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May 21, 2021 - 05:58 AM

WASHINGTON — First launched in Ohio, cash prize incentives to get people vaccinated are taking off in other US states to boost a slowing Covid-19 shot campaign.

Ohio Governor Mike DeWine announced a week ago that five adults who get vaccinated will each win $1 million in the state’s “Vax-a-Million” lottery.

The eastern state of Maryland unveiled a lottery program of its own on Thursday providing up to $2 million to residents who get their shots.

“The goal is just to get those reluctant folks, or people who just haven’t thought about it,” Maryland Governor Larry Hogan said.

Some 67 percent of Marylanders aged 18 or older have so far received at least one vaccine dose, according to official figures.

From Tuesday, the Maryland lottery will randomly select one person a day from a list of people who have gotten vaccinated to win a $40,000 prize.

There will be 40 drawings over 40 days for $40,000 and a final drawing on July 4, US Independence Day, for $400,000.

In New York, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced a program that would provide lottery scratch-off tickets to people 18 and older who get vaccinated.

“We know that vaccinations are the vital piece of the puzzle we need to crush Covid once and for all,” Cuomo said in a statement.

“We’re doing everything we can to make getting a vaccine as quick and easy as possible, but as vaccination rates slow across the state, we’re going to have to get creative.

“This new pilot program will offer a greater incentive for New Yorkers to get vaccinated by offering a free scratch-off ticket for a chance to win up to $5 million,” Cuomo said.

“The more New Yorkers we can get vaccinated, the better our situation and the faster we can return to a new normal,” the governor said.

Nearly 63 percent of New Yorkers have received at least one dose of Covid-19 vaccine.

President Joe Biden has set a target of vaccinating at least 70 percent of the US population by July 4.

But the pace has slowed after a fast start and local, state and federal authorities have been looking for ways to get more shots in arms, sometimes partnering with restaurants and other businesses.

Promotions include free beer, free doughnuts, free baseball tickets and savings bonds for people who get vaccinated.

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