On Thursday, California Governor Gavin Newsom announced that 10 Californians would receive $1.5 million each for getting vaccinated. A grand total of $116.5 million will be distributed, the largest vaccine incentive in the country.
“We’re putting aside more resources than any other state in America, and we’re making available the largest prizes of any state in America for those that seek to get vaccinated,” the Governor announced.
The state will give $50 gift cards to the next 2 million people who get vaccinated. 30 people will receive $50,000 each. Drawings start on June 4. Anyone over the age of 12 that has received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine is eligible for the prizes.
CA is launching a $116.5 MILLION GIVEAWAY for vaccinated Californians!
$15 MILLION in cash prizes for 10 winners selected 6/15
$50k for winners on 6/4 & 6/11
Already vaccinated? You’re entered.
Not vaccinated? Next 2 million that get fully vaccinated can ALSO get a $50 card.
— Gavin Newsom (@GavinNewsom) May 27, 2021
“These are real incentives,” Newsom said during a press briefing Thursday announcing the program. “These are an opportunity to say thank you to those not only seeking to get vaccinated as we move forward, but also those that have been vaccinated since we first availed those opportunities a number of months ago.”
Amelia Matier, a spokesperson for Newsom, says that the incentives are coming from the state’s disaster response account and the state will be reimbursed by federal coronavirus relief money.
John Cox, a Republican running against Newsom in a recall election, says that the Governor is buying votes.
“This is 100 million more reasons that Gavin Newsom must be recalled,” Cox said.
Dr. Kirsten Bibbins-Domingo, an epidemiologist at the University of California, San Francisco, says that the cash prizes do not highlight the real challenges of getting people in poorer communities vaccinated.
“These types of strategies don’t work in sometimes our lower-income, minority populations where we intend to work if we don’t at the same time lower those barriers — whether it’s digital or transportation or language,” Dr. Bibbins-Domingo said. “We’re at a point in the pandemic where access should not be the issue.”
Bob Stutzman, a former spokesperson for Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, believes the cash incentives are smart.
“I hope Republicans resist being critical of this,” Stutzman tweeted.
Almost 63% of Californians 12 and older have gotten at least one dose of the shot.
California is the latest state to offer incentives in hopes of encouraging residents to get vaccinated.