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Gov. Cooper launching four $1 million cash drawings as COVID-19 vaccine incentive in N.C.

Updated: Jun. 10, 2021 at 8:00 PM EDT
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RALEIGH, N.C. (WBTV) - Governor Roy Cooper is launching four $1 million cash drawings as an incentive for North Carolina residents to get the COVID-19 vaccine and boost the state’s overall vaccination percentage.

Over the next three months of summer, four people will win a million dollars each for being North Carolinians who have gotten at least one vaccine in the state.

Anyone already vaccinated would be eligible. North Carolinians 18+ who get vaccinated or have already been vaccinated will be automatically entered.

North Carolinians from 12-17 who have gotten at least one shot are automatically entered into four drawings to pay $125,000 for a college education at a school of their choice. The $125,000 can be used at any post-secondary institution and is awarded in the form of a NC 529 account.

The first drawing will be on June 23 and they will occur every other week until the last one on Aug. 4.

The drawings will take place every other Wednesday. For extra incentive anyone getting their first shot from June 10 going forward will be entered twice for each drawing. New entries will close at midnight on the Sunday prior to the Wednesday drawing. Winners will be verified and then announced.

“Regardless of who wins, there’s no way to lose. A chance at a million dollars or a college scholarship is pretty good motivation. But even if your name isn’t drawn, the worst you’ll do is get strong protection from a deadly virus,” Gov. Cooper said.

The state has recently fallen behind the national pace of vaccinations with only 54 percent of adults who have gotten at least one dose of the vaccine,

That percentage is in comparison with nearly 64 percent of adults nationwide, according to state Department of Health and Human Services data.

“In North Carolina, we still have around 2 and a half million adults who are not vaccinated. Getting this life-saving vaccine to those people is critical for the health of our state and the health of our economy,” Gov. Cooper said.

DHHS recently launched an experimental vaccination incentive program, offering $25 cash cards to people getting shots in four counties including Mecklenburg and Rowan.

There have been 1,007,273 COVID-19 cases reported in the state since the first case was reported in North Carolina on March 3, 2020. The total number of people who have died of complications with the virus is now 13,246 in North Carolina. Officials said there are 548 hospitalizations.

On May 14, Gov. Cooper lifted all mandatory capacity and gathering limits, social distancing requirements, and most mandatory mask requirements.

Executive Order 219, which has concurrence from the North Carolina Council of State, authorizes the drawings.

“Everyone who gets a COVID-19 vaccination is a winner,” said Dr. Mandy K. Cohen, Secretary of the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services. “They protect themselves, their loved ones and others from severe illness, hospitalization and death. 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.”

The drawings are part of the state’s Bringing Summer Back get-out-the-vaccine campaign to increase awareness of the availability and safety of COVID-19 vaccines and encourage North Carolinians to get a COVID-19 vaccination as soon as they can. The vaccines have been tested and found to be safe and effective for anyone 12 and older.

North Carolina joins other states that announced million-dollar drawings to promote vaccinations. Ohio, the first state to launch such a program, reported a 28-percent increase in vaccinations among those 16 and older in the first two weeks following the announcement.

WBTV spoke to several North Carolinians about Thursday’s lottery announcement. Some people said they thought the lottery program will encourage more people to get the shot.

“I think so for sure. I mean money talks man,” said Charlotte resident Chris Walker.

Suhail Nawaz, a Highpoint resident visiting Charlotte, said he too thinks the lottery will encourage more people to get the shot.

“I think it’s a good idea. People will get vaccinated - more people,” said Nawaz.

Not everyone supports the lottery program. Charlotte resident Aisha Scott explained that she is not vaccinated against COVID-19 and the lottery will not make her want to get the shot(s).

“I feel like they’re trying to pressure it on us now and you using money because times is hard and you’re drawing people in with ‘you could win a million dollars or enter to win a million dollars if you get this vaccine’ - no, not about it,” said Scott.

Denise Stallings said she thinks the lottery may encourage some more people to get vaccinated, but she has no plans of getting the shot(s).

“You should not have to pay people to be vaccinated. I mean, what else is (Governor Roy Cooper) gonna do? I mean if you want the vaccine, you trust that it’s gonna help, do it. If you don’t, don’t,” said Stallings. “I think it’s part of the whole ‘let me see if I can control you microchip war’ and I would never do it.”

People Who Are Not Eligible Due to Data Availability

Over the course of the Promotion, DHHS may not be able to access data from individuals who received their vaccinations at locations operated by the Department of Defense, Veterans’ Administration, Indian Health Service, or other organizations. DHHS is working to make people eligible at Veterans’ Administration and Indian Health Service sites. However, if the state of North Carolina does not have access to an individual’s vaccination data at the time of the drawing, or if DHHS has not been able at the time of the drawing to add the individual’s vaccination data to the DHHS list of entries, that person will be ineligible for that drawing.

People Who Are Not Eligible Because They or Their Immediate Family Members Helped Develop or Administer the Program

The following individuals are ineligible to claim a Cash Prize or a Scholarship Prize in this Promotion:

  1. The Governor and his immediate family members.
  2. All members of the North Carolina Council of State and their immediate family members.
  3. The Secretary of DHHS and her immediate family members.
  4. All employees and independent contractors of the Office of the Secretary of DHHS and their immediate family members.
  5. All commissioners of the North Carolina State Lottery Commission and their immediate family members.
  6. Any employee, independent contractor, or employee of an independent contractor of the NCEL who has access to the random number generator used for the drawings and their immediate family members.
  7. Any incarcerated offender in custody serving an active felony sentence in a federal or state correctional institution.
  8. Those employees who assisted in the creation of the Promotion at the Governor’s Office, DHHS, NCEL, the North Carolina Department of Justice, and the Department of Information Technology, and their immediate family members.
  9. Any employee or independent contractor of DHHS or employee or independent contractor of a third-party vendor of DHHS who has access to the COVID-19 Vaccine Management System (“CVMS”) and their immediate family members.
  10. Any member of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (“ECBI”) who has access to the vaccination database for the ECBI.
  11. The independent auditor certifying the drawings.

In addition, those employees who assisted in the creation of the Promotion at NCSEAA and College Foundation, and their immediate family members, are ineligible to claim a Cash Prize and all employees of NCSEAA and College Foundation, and their immediate family members are ineligible to claim a Scholarship Prize in this Promotion.

For purposes of this Promotion, “immediate family members” means any family members living in the same household, and in addition, any spouses, domestic partners, children (including without limitation step-children), and parents (including without limitation step-parents).

The $4 Million Summer Cash and Summer Cash 4 College drawings will use federal Coronavirus Relief Funds to fund the program. The drawings will be supported by the North Carolina State Lottery Director. The scholarship funds will be managed by the North Carolina State Education Assistance Authority.

Learn more about the $4 Million Summer Cash and Summer Cash 4 College Drawings at SummerVaxCash.com. For more information about COVID-19 vaccines and the state’s Bringing Summer Back initiative, visit YourSpotYourShot.nc.gov or dial 1- 888-675-4567.

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