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NC Launches Cash Lottery To Encourage Vaccinations

North Carolina is offering $4 million in cash drawings to encourage residents to get the COVID-19 vaccine.
Gerry Broome
File photo of a healthcare worker preparing to administer the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine Thursday, Feb. 11, 2021 at PNC Arena in Raleigh, N.C.

Following the model of some other states, North Carolina will offer $4 million in cash drawings to encourage people to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

The state will hold four drawings of $1 million each beginning June 23. All adults who have received a shot will be entered in to the drawings. Additionally, adults who receive a shot beginning today will be entered in to the drawing twice. North Carolinians who are under 18 can also enter into a drawing. They will be eligible to win $125,000 for college. Specifically, the winnings would be put in a NC 529 savings plan assigned to the winner.

Compared to other states, we are lagging behind.
Mandy Cohen, NC Health and Human Services secretary

Vaccine uptake in North Carolina has slowed dramatically in the past few weeks, and the state is flush with supply. But only about 54% of the adult population has received a dose of the vaccine, and NC Health Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen said she wants to see that number increase.

"Everyone who gets a COVID-19 vaccination is a winner. They protect themselves, their loved ones and others from severe illness, hospitalization and death," Cohen said. "Millions of people have already taken the vaccines. These summer cash drawings add another reward to the many that come with getting a COVID-19 vaccination."

Some states have reached adult population vaccination rates in the 70% range. "Compared to other states, we are lagging behind," Cohen said.

Winners of the cash drawing cannot remain anonymous, and state and federal taxes will apply.

Ohio was the first state to offer a cash lottery to encourage vaccinations. Cohen says that state saw a 28% uptick in vaccination rates in the two weeks after it started the lottery. Gov. Roy Cooper said he hopes North Carolina will see an increase "even better" than that figure.

 Vaccination rates have slowed in North Carolina
Vaccination rates have slowed in North Carolina

Jason deBruyn is the WUNC health reporter, a beat he took in 2020. He has been in the WUNC newsroom since 2016.
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