Lottery drawings, higher education financial aid, game systems, smart speakers and tickets for sporting events and air travel are now being used by the state of Washington to nudge the most reluctant people to get vaccinated.
On Thursday, Gov. Jay Inslee announced a range of incentives.
“These generous programs will encourage more Washingtonians to take this life-saving vaccine,” Inslee said in remarks released ahead of a news conference. “I hope people will see this as an opportunity to reopen even sooner than June 30 if we can stay motivated, stay informed and get more people vaccinated faster throughout the month of June.”
Washington is set for a full reopening June 30, or when the percentage of eligible adults 16 and older who have received at least one dose reaches 70 percent, whichever comes first.
If the 70 percent goal isn’t met, the governor on Thursday said the state will still reopen, though he’d prefer it with more vaccinated.
“The earlier the better,” he noted.
For the latest incentives, the state says all who’ve been vaccinated or initiate vaccination qualify.
The incentives are open to all Washington residents regardless of citizenship, but proof of Washington residency is required, according to Thursday’s announcement.
Who’s not eligible?
“Employees currently working at the Office of the Governor, Washington State Lottery and Department of Health and their households,” according to the announcement.
One glitch is those who received vaccines via the U.S. Department of Defense or Department of Veterans Affairs in the state are not listed in the state system.
The state is pursuing an option that would allow those individuals to opt in.
The Washington State Lottery will be conducting a “Shot of a Lifetime” giveaway series in June to offer prizes to vaccinated people.
Starting next week and for four weeks, a drawing will be held to award $250,000 each week to a vaccinated state resident. The names will be drawn from the state Department of Health’s immunization database.
At the end of the four weeks, an additional, final drawing will be for a $1 million on July 13.
▪ Nearly $1 million will be dispersed to public four-year universities and two-year community and technical colleges for their own drawing for free tuition and expenses for vaccinated students.
▪ Thirty prizes of one-year of tuition college credits to 12-17 year olds through the Guaranteed Education Tuition (GET program). These credits will go directly to families.
Various ticket prizes also will be offered by Alaska Airlines, Seattle Mariners, Seattle Sounders (tickets plus two autographed jerseys), Seattle Storm, Seattle Seahawks, Seattle Kraken and OL Reign (tickets plus a team-signed jersey).
Gift cards also will be distributed by businesses at vaccine events, and Microsoft will give away 300 Xboxes and GamePasses to vaccinated individuals. Nintendo will be offering Nintendo Switches. Google will give away 25 Google Nests, and Amazon will be giving away 40 Echo Dots, according to the state’s announcement.
The Washington Lottery will be administering the prizes, including shipping the game consoles and other digital prizes to the winners.
For all the prizes, “After each drawing my team, they are prepared to contact the winners,” said Marcus Glasper, director of the Washington State Lottery, at Thursday’s news conference.
“The winners will have at 72 hours with which to respond to our contact … to claim their prize. If they don’t do not contact us within 72 hours, we will move on to alternate presumptive winners.”
Progress so far
The state so far has seen 50.32 percent of the total population initiating vaccination, and 43.34 percent fully vaccinated.
Among those 16 and older, 62.70 percent of that population has initiated vaccination, and 54 percent are fully vaccinated.
Pierce County now has pop-up clinics for people to get COVID vaccines at local restaurants with the opportunity to have their name put in a drawing for two round-trip airline vouchers for anywhere Alaska Airlines flies. (Dates and locations are posted at https://getvaxxedwa.com/).
Meanwhile, Anheuser-Busch is offering free beer, seltzer, non-alcoholic drink or other A-B beverage if the nation as a whole hits the 70 percent vaccinated with at least one dose by July 4.
Diminished participation at vaccine events has been noted in Pierce County, with less than half the anticipated rate of vaccine being administered at one of the highest profile vaccine clinics, the six-week Tacoma Dome event, which ended June 1.
Clinic organizers anticipated administering 35,100 first and second doses during the event (17,550 each).
According to information obtained Thursday from the county’s Department of Emergency Management, the clinic administered 15,696 total first and second doses. The bulk of those vaccines were the two-shot Pfizer version, with 262 choosing the Johnson & Johnson single-dose vaccine.
“It’s important to note while DEM was operating events at the Tacoma Dome, staff were running vaccination sites in other parts of Pierce County,” Mike Halliday, public information specialist for the county’s Department of Emergency Management, told The News Tribune via email.
“During that time DEM also got 13,995 first and second doses into the community at those events,” he noted.
He added that overall, DEM has distributed more than 93,000 doses (both first and second) since starting in late January.
At the Board of Health meeting May 19, a presentation from the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department showed that one walk-in clinic, at the former Toys R Us site in Puyallup, was only seeing 15 percent of its available slots filled at that time.
On the flip side, the payoff of getting more people vaccinated is starting to be seen even in Pierce County.
On Wednesday, the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department reported that the county’s 14 day case rate fell below 200 for the first time in almost three months.
Inslee, in closing remarks Thursday, encouraged everyone to pay attention to the drawing in the coming weeks.
“Good luck in the lottery, this is most important one you’ll ever be in.”
More information on the incentives announced Thursday: medium.com/wagovernor/inslee-announces-vaccination-incentives-3a3fc36a0c27