LAS VEGAS (AP) — A new kind of $5 million jackpot will be on offer in Nevada, but only to state residents who have been jabbed with at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine.
Gov. Steve Sisolak on Thursday announced a new effort to encourage reluctant or forgetful residents to get their shots, adding Nevada to a list of states offering unconventional incentives to revive flatlining vaccination efforts as demand wanes nationwide.
As part of “Vax Nevada Days,” Sisolak said any resident who has been vaccinated will be eligible to receive part of a $5 million pot of prize money. Prize winners will be announced every Thursday beginning July 8. Students will be offered college tuition credits worth $5,000 to $50,000. The state will give out prizes to residents 18 and older, ranging from $1,000 to a grand prize of $1 million to be announced on Aug. 26.
- Details of the program can be read by clicking here.
- Residents of Nevada must have at least one vaccine listed in Nevada WebIZ program to be eligible.
- You can check your vaccination records here.
- If you have questions about your immunization record, you can contact the Nevada WebIZ Help Desk at (775) 684-5954 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
“If people are looking for reason not to get vaccinated, they’re going to come up with one. I’m trying to give people 5 million reasons to get vaccinated,” Sisolak said, referencing the total amount of cash prizes being offered.
“Vax Nevada Days” will be funded with federal coronavirus relief dollars.
Unlike other states offering prizes, Nevada law does not allow the state to have a lottery. The state’s powerful casino industry has historically opposed creating the kind offered in most states. Sisolak said he had to seek out a legal opinion from the Attorney General and Gaming Control Board to ensure using a random number generator to draw for cash prizes adhered to state law. He said the initiative was not a lottery because entrants aren’t paying to participate and vaccines are free.
Immunize Nevada Executive Director Heidi Parker said the effort aims to induce more Nevada residents to become vaccinated and reward those who have already been immunized.
“This is our way of giving our vaccination efforts, an extra boost. We are working hard every day to make it even easier for people in Nevada to get the COVID-19 vaccine,” Parker said.
The announcement comes as health officials report that more than half the state’s residents 12 and older have received at least one dose of vaccine and 42.7% — or more than 1.1 million — statewide have completed their inoculations. The numbers are slightly lower in the Las Vegas area, home to about 74% of the state’s population.
In Nevada and elsewhere, prizes have ranged from offering hunting rifles and shotguns in West Virginia to scratch-offs in New York. As part of California’s “Vax for the Win” incentive strategy, Gov. Gavin Newsom has used lotto balls and a game show-style spin wheel to pick random vaccinated residents for cash prizes and draw attention to the effort.
Nevada was the third state to make a lottery announcement on Thursday, after Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzer and Washington Gov. Jay Inslee also announced lottery plans.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that 53% of people nationally have gotten at least one dose of vaccine, including 87.1% of people 65 years and older, and 44.5% of all people are fully vaccinated. In Nevada, 43% of the population has received at least one dose, and the number of vaccines administered daily has plummeted from more than 25,000 in mid-April to less than 7,000.
Sisolak said more state residents had received coronavirus vaccines than any other vaccine in the state’s history and noted Nevada has historically had among the nation’s lowest influenza vaccination rates
“People in Nevada have just have a more of a hesitancy and resistance to getting vaccines, and we knew that going in,” he said.
Department of Health and Human Services data shows Nevada has ordered fewer vaccine doses in recent weeks as the number of people seeking shots has declined.
The department reported that more than 12,700 doses of vaccine have been wasted since March. The numbers reflected doses opened but discarded unused or wasted because of mistakes like dropped vials, improper storage or mishandling. The data did not distinguish between the Moderna, Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson products.
Metz reported from Carson City, Nevada, and is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.