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California Will Give Away More Than $116 Million To Get More People Vaccinated

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Andrew Nixon / CapRadio
Stickers at a vaccine clinic at McClellan on March 3, 2021.

As the state heads toward a full reopening on June 15, the giveaways — a combination of gift cards and cash drawings — are an enticement for more people to get fully immunized.

The bulk of it — $100 million in the form of $50 gift cards — will go to the next 2 million newly-vaccinated Californians. Recipients can receive a virtual prepaid debit card or a gift card for Kroger or Albertsons grocery stores.

The remaining $16.5 million will go toward cash drawings, ranging from $50,000 to $1.5 million. All fully vaccinated Californians will be eligible for the prizes, regardless of age, immigration status or when they were inoculated.

California has administered 36.9 million vaccine doses. More than 17 million people are fully vaccinated, just over 50% of those eligible, according to the state’s COVID-19 website. The governor’s office says 12 million eligible Californians still have not gotten a shot.

Newsom says the state’s goal is fully vaccinating 70% of eligible residents. Kids aged 12-15 recently became eligible for the Pfizer vaccine.

Who’s entered to win the prizes?

The next 2 million Californians to be vaccinated will receive a $50 gift card for groceries or prepaid debit card. A redemption code will be sent via text message 7 to 10 days after receiving a second dose (or a single dose with Johnson and Johnson). Those without a mobile phone or email address can receive a physical card by calling 1-833-993-3873. Unhoused people can also call the number to coordinate card delivery.

Are undocumented immigrants eligible for prizes?

Yes, eligibility is not tied to immigration status.

Am I eligible for the prizes if I already got a vaccine?

Some prizes. You are eligible for the cash prizes of $16.5 million, ranging from $50,000 to $1.5 million. You are not eligible for the $50 gift cards.

When will the cash prizes be announced?

Thirty winners will receive $50,000 in cash prize drawings, announced on June 4 and 11. The state will announce 10 winners of $1.5 million on June 15.

What if I only got one dose? Am I still eligible?

People who have already received their first dose are not eligible for the incentive cards.

To receive the $50 gift card, you must become fully vaccinated. That means one dose for Johnson and Johnson or two doses for Pfizer and Moderna.

After your first dose, however, you are entered to win the cash prizes, but prize money won't be disbursed until you complete your full vaccine course.

What if someone under 18 wins a cash drawing?

The winnings will be held in a savings account until they reach 18.

Is this a lottery?

According to the state, no. it’s being characterized as a drawing. The prize program is not being run by the California State Lottery, but the agency is providing assistance.

Can I get DOUBLE vaccinated to be re-entered for a prize drawing or increase my chances?

No, the state is monitoring for any double-dippers.

Where is the money coming from?

Per a spokesperson in the governor’s office, the funding will initially come from the state’s general fund, using its disaster response account. “However, it will be backfilled by federal funds, as this activity is considered an allowable use of funds under [the] American Rescue Plan Act,” the spokesperson added.

The governor’s office declined to answer questions about how much money Kroger and Albertsons will receive for the gift cards.

Copyright 2020 CapRadio