Democratic California Governor Gavin Newsom has announced a new incentive program to encourage more Californians to get vaccinated against COVID-19.
The program will set aside two million $50 gift cards for anyone 12 years or older who get newly and fully vaccinated. The program seeks to distribute all the cards before June 15. Newsom said he hoped to reopen the entire state for business by June 15.
Additionally, on Friday, June 4 and Friday, June 11, the state will also conduct a drawing for people who have already been vaccinated. There will be 15 individuals that will receive $50,000 cash prizes from those drawings. On June 15, there will also be an additional drawing to award $1.5 million for 10 individuals who have gotten fully vaccinated.
“We’re putting aside more resources than any other state in America and we’re raking available, the largest prizes of any state in America,” Newsome said. “These are an opportunity to say thank you to those not only seeking to get vaccinated…. but also those that have been vaccinated.”
It’s unclear if people of all ages will be entered into the cash drawings.
Approximately 42.2 percent of California’s population has been vaccinated, according to the statistics site Our World in Data. That percentage represents roughly 16.7 million people.
However, for the population to reach herd immunity, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has estimated that 70 to 85 percent of the population would need to be vaccinated or immune to reach herd immunity.
California has the lowest COVID-19 case rate and positivity rate in the U.S, and has vaccinated more Americans than any U.S. state.
Vaccination rates have steadily declined nationwide over the last six week, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). To help increase the rates, several states have introduced incentives for vaccination.
In Connecticut, vaccinated people can get free drinks in over 150 restaurants. Maine offers vaccinated residents one of seven outdoor entertainment offers. Maryland, Oregon, New York, Kentucky and Ohio enter vaccinated residents into a cash lottery.
Over 2.7 million adults and 104,000 teens have signed up for Ohio’s vaccine lottery.
Newsom is currently facing a special recall election to remove him from office, possibly to be held in November. Statistical data suggests a low likelihood of his being removed.
This is a breaking news story and will be updated as more information becomes available.