Whitmer Announces Michigan COVID-19 Vaccine Sweepstakes, ScholarshipsJuly 1, 2021
June 30, 2021
Kristen Jordan Shamus
Are you feeling lucky, Michigan?
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer plans to announce details Thursday of a COVID-19 vaccine sweepstakes that will give vaccinated Michiganders a chance to win a combined total of more than $5 million in cash and nine college scholarships worth $55,000 apiece.
Called the MI Shot to Win Sweepstakes, the lottery-style raffle will be operated by the state in conjunction with Meijer and the Michigan Association of United Ways as an incentive to encourage more residents to get vaccinated.
Any resident 18 or older who has gotten at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine is eligible for the sweepstakes. For teens and tweens ages 12-17, there’ll be a chance to win one of nine Michigan Education Trust (MET) Charitable Tuition Program four-year contracts valued at $55,000. The scholarships can be used to pay for tuition and mandatory fees at a college or university in accordance with MET terms and conditions.
As of Wednesday, just over 5 million Michiganders ages 16 and up had gotten at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, which amounts to 61.8% of that population, according to the state’s COVID-19 vaccine dashboard.
The sweepstakes will involve a series of statewide drawings with an aim of encouraging more Michiganders to get a COVID-19 vaccine and raise the statewide immunization rate by roughly 9% — or nearly 768,000 Michiganders — to hit a statewide goal of 70% of residents age 16 and older who are immunized.
The pace of vaccinations has dropped substantially in Michigan since the peak in the week ending April 10, when 400,846 Michiganders got a first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and 276,400 received a second dose, state health department data show. In the week ending June 21, 43,250 people got first doses and 85,456 got second doses – a decline of 89.2% and 69%, respectively.
Michigan joins several other states in offering vaccine sweepstakes and lotteries.
In Ohio, Gov. Mike DeWine launched a statewide Vax-a-Million lottery offering a shot at $1 million weekly prizes for adult residents who’ve been vaccinated that continues to the end of June.
With the lotto idea, DeWine “unlocked a secret,” said Andy Slavitt, former senior adviser for the White House COVID-19 Response Team.
“In the days after Ohio announced the program, the state saw a 55% increase in its vaccination rate among younger adults 20 to 49 years of age,” Slavitt said during a May 25 press briefing. “In several counties, the rate of vaccination doubled compared to before the announcement. In other words, the program is working. Since then, we’ve seen more states, including Maryland, New York, and Oregon, announce similar programs. We are nothing if not responsive to good ideas.
“People may say all of this is frivolous. I say: Anything that ends the pandemic, it’s time for us to pull out now. For those on the fence, find whatever reason you want to get vaccinated. For those not sure yet, do your homework. Talk to your doctor or your pharmacist. All concerns are reasonable, but do yourself a favor: Don’t let some guy on Facebook answer your question when good answers are available.”
Companies also have offered incentives to encourage vaccination.
One of the first offers to entice people to get COVID-19 vaccines came from Krispy Kreme, which literally sweetened the pot when it offered up a free glazed doughnut with proof of vaccination.
United Airlines offered a taste of pre-pandemic life with its “Your Shot to Fly” sweepstakes, giving away free flights to people who are vaccinated and sign up for its MileagePlus program. Five grand prize winners will get a year of free travel to anywhere in the world United flies.
Free beer also is on tap for the vaccinated. Anheuser-Busch announced earlier this month it’ll give away $5 virtual gift cards for free beer or other Anheuser-Busch products to those 21 and older if the U.S. hits President Joe Biden’s goal of giving at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine to 70% of American adults by July Fourth.
It’s easy now to find a COVID-19 vaccine.
Supply is plentiful, and the federal government launched a text messaging service that allows Americans to text their zip code to 438829. Then, they automatically get a response with a detailed list of vaccination sites near them that includes what type of vaccine is available at each location. The text service includes the option to schedule a free ride to a vaccine clinic through Uber or Lyft and free child care help.