‘Vax for the Win’: 1st cash drawing for vaccinated Californians to start Friday

photo of someone being vaccinated with the covid vaccine
Matt Gibson/Staff
Californians have a monetary incentive to get COVID-19 vaccines as the state’s reopening date approaches. The next 2million Californians who receive a full vaccination will be eligible to receive $100 million in the form of $50 gift cards.

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California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Thursday his $116.5 million dollar “Vax for the Win” plan to encourage Californians to get vaccinated by the state’s economic reopening June 15.

This incentive-based vaccination program is the largest in the nation, according to a press release from the governor’s office. The program includes cash prizes for both previously vaccinated individuals and those who are fully vaccinated at the time of drawing.

“California has already made incredible progress in the fight against COVID-19, with the lowest case rates in the country, while administering millions more vaccines than any other state,” Newsom said in the press release. “But we aren’t stopping there, we’re doing everything it takes to get Californians vaccinated as we approach June 15 to help us fully reopen safely.”

$100 million in the form of $50 prepaid or grocery store gift cards will be allocated to the next 2 million Californians who receive both doses of Pfizer or Moderna or the single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine, according to the press release.

The other $16.5 million will be allocated via cash prizes. This includes the $15 million prize that will be split among 10 winning, fully vaccinated Californians and a weekly drawing for $50,000 every Friday. Thirty total winners will be drawn June 4 and June 11, according to the press release.

All Californians ages 12 and up are included in the drawings, with winners under 18 having their prize money stored in a savings account. Tomás Aragón, California Department of Public Health director and State Public Health officer shared in the press release that the state intends to partner with local organizations and ensure the program finds low vaccination communities who may be facing language barriers.

“The important detail for Berkelyans is this: all you have to do to participate is to get vaccinated,” said city spokesperson Matthai Chakko in an email. “It’s easier than ever to get vaccinated, and we hope all our community members will reach out to friends, family and co-workers and let them know that these safe, free and effective vaccines are also available to them.”

Stefano DellaVigna, a UC Berkeley professor in the departments of economics and business administration, said in his email that reward incentives will encourage people to get vaccinated. DellaVigna added that the program will most likely pay for itself, as the pandemic’s “massive” hits to the economy are remedied with more vaccinations.

DellaVigna also said in his email the program is aptly designed for behavioral intervention because it is fair, has automatic entry and effectively uses the incentive tactic of small chances with large rewards.

The “Vax for the Win” drawings begin June 4 and will continue through June 15. 

Contact Dina Katgara at [email protected], and follow her on Twitter at @dinakatgara.

A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that individuals must be fully vaccinated by May 27 to be eligible for the cash prizes. In fact, they must be fully vaccinated by the time of the drawing.