BOSTON – Massachusetts has taken a milestone after vaccinating more than 4 million people against COVID-19, but the state is struggling to reach some who are still hesitant to get vaccinated.
The number of people seeking vaccines has slowed in recent weeks, and the state has shifted its focus from mass vaccination sites to community health providers and mobile units.
Now he is offering cash and prizes as incentives.
The “VaxMillions Giveaway,” which was launched by Governor Charlie Baker on Tuesday, offers Bay Staters who get fully vaccinated the chance to win up to $ 1 million in cash or a college scholarship.
“If you’ve been sitting on the sidelines and thinking about getting the shot but for some reason you haven’t, here’s another reason for you to come forward, to protect yourself, your friends, your friends. coworkers and your neighbors, ”Baker said at a briefing. “The vaccine is free, and now it could be your ticket to win $ 1 million.”
The competition, which is overseen by the state lottery, will offer five million dollars prizes to fully vaccinated people 18 years and older and five scholarships of $ 300,000 to a college savings plan 529 , run by the Massachusetts Educational Financing Authority, for ages 12 to 17.
Vaccinated residents can participate in the contest from July 1. The contest is only open to residents who have been fully vaccinated in Massachusetts, regardless of when they received their vaccines. The draws will take place once a week for five weeks, from July 26 to the end of August.
Massachusetts has one of the highest per capita vaccination rates in the country, according to the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. On Tuesday, the state took a step forward after announcing that more than 4 million people had been vaccinated. The state has about 7 million inhabitants.
Baker noted that new COVID-19 cases are down 99% from a peak in January, while hospitalizations are down 93% statewide. The state’s positivity rate also fell 95%, he said.
Improved public health measures have allowed the state to fully reopen the economy and lift remaining restrictions on businesses and gatherings. The state of emergency, signed by Baker over a year ago, expired on Tuesday.
Despite this, Baker said the state needs to reach communities hesitant about vaccination to avoid a resurgence of the coronavirus and its growing mutations.
“The more people we vaccinate, the better,” he said. “Variants make this the kind of thing where we should be doing everything we can to get as many people vaccinated as possible. “
Several other states and cities as well as businesses have also offered prizes for the vaccines, ranging from cash and college vouchers, concert tickets and subway vouchers.
Christian M. Wade covers the Massachusetts Statehouse for newspapers and the websites of the North of Boston Media Group. Email him at [email protected]