Michigan giving away $5M in prizes to urge COVID-19 vaccinations

COVID-19 Vaccine

LANSING, Mich. (WOOD) — Working with private organizations, Michigan has launched a program that will make cash prizes available to residents who have been or will get vaccinated against COVID-19.

The MI Shot to Win Sweepstakes will give away a combined total of more than $5 million, broken down into smaller daily drawings and two larger prizes.

“The MI Shot to Win Sweepstakes will save and change lives,” Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said during a Thursday morning press conference in Lansing. “The reasoning behind the sweepstakes is simple: We want to keep Michiganders safe. We need to incentives more of us to go and get vaccinated. You can walk in to most places now and get your first shot today and then go get registered.”

The daily drawings for $50,000 prizes will run for 30 days. Winners must have received their first dose on the date linked to the drawing.

A $1 million prize will be drawn from people 18 and up who have gotten at lease one vaccine dose between Dec. 1, 2020, and July 10 of this year.

Another $2 million grand prize will be offered to those vaccinated between Dec. 1 and July 30.

The sweepstakes will also give nine college scholarships to residents age 12 to 17 who were vaccinated between Dec. 1 and July 30. Winners will get a Michigan Education Trust scholarship worth $55,000 to cover a four-year degree.

You can go to mishottowin.com or call the Michigan COVID-19 hotline at 888.535.6136 and press 1 to enter. Those between the ages of 12 and 17 must be registered by a parent.

“If you haven’t gotten your shot, do so. If you did, get registered. Let’s take MI Shot to Win,” Whitmer encouraged.

As of Thursday, 61.8% of Michigan residents 16 or older have gotten at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. The state would like to increase its vaccination numbers by nearly 768,000 people to reach its 70% goal.

Officials acknowledged that Michigan’s coronavirus metrics are low right now, but they warned the pandemic is not over and that the more transmissible delta variant could erase some of the progress we’ve made. The way to fight back, they said, is to get vaccinated.

“We’ve all been a part of getting to this point. We are in a strong position compared to where we were a year ago. And yet we do have some more work to do,” Whitmer said. “…Today’s announcement is an exciting step toward accomplishing our goals of getting more people vaccinated, getting everyone back to work and getting this economy invigorated.”

Health officials reminded people that the vaccine is safe and effective.

“Of the millions people who’ve been vaccinated, less than 1% of those individuals test positive for COVID-19 after vaccination,” Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Director Elizabeth Hertel said. “And of those who test positive, very few end up seriously ill or hospitalized. That’s an incredible, incredible reason to get vaccinated.”

Whitmer said she hoped the money would push people with worries or questions to take those to their doctors, get answers and get the vaccine.

“We saw in Ohio and in other states that have had sweepstakes that they’ve seen an influx of people coming in to get vaccinated,” she said.

Michigan gaming law prevented the state from running a vaccination lottery by itself, the governor said, but having it hosted by Meijer in partnership with the Michigan Association of United Ways made it possible.

“It’s a great story of what happens when the public sector, the private sector and the philanthropic sector partner to solve a problem,” Whitmer said.

A number of other organizations are also helping, including Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, the Michigan Chamber of Commerce, the Michigan Association of State Universities and the Small Business Association of Michigan.

—News 8’s Emily Linnert contributed to this report.

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