A Colorado healthcare worker became the latest American to win a $1 million COVID vaccine lottery prize as states scramble to boost flagging demand for the shots.
On Friday, Colorado Governor Jared Polis announced that Sally Sliger, a 50-year-old health care IT worker from Mead, won the first of five $1 million prizes for residents who have received the COVID-19 vaccine.
Sliger beamed as she collected the prize with husband Chris at Polis’s official mansion in Denver on Friday.
The 50 year-old explained that she’d gotten the shot back in April so she could see family without worrying, and said winning the cash was a ‘surreal’ bonus.
She and her husband plan to use the cash to pay off their two sons’ student loans and boost their retirement fund, Sliger told a press conference.
The state is hosting a public-health initiative called the Colorado Comeback Cash that entered every resident who was vaccinated by the end of May in the first drawing, the Associated Press reported.
To be eligible to win, residents needed to be 18 years old and have received at least one dose of the approved coronavirus vaccines.
On Friday Sally Sliger, (pictured) a 50-year-old health care IT worker from Mead, won the first of five $1 million prizes for residents who have received the COVID-19 vaccine
California Governor Gavin Newsom (pictured) also announced state lottery winners on Friday, taking a gameshow host approach to the vaccination lottery
Colorado’s lottery is one of several lavish vaccine incentive programs launched nationwide over the last month.
New Mexico has the biggest single prize on offer – with one lucky person who has had their vaccine set to win $5 million.
The prizes are meant to get people excited to get vaccinated against the coronavirus as vaccine demand in the U.S. has decreased over the past month, falling from an average of three million per day in April to over 1 million per day, currently.
On Friday, the CDC announced that about 1.4 million new doses of Covid-19 vaccine were administered since Thursday, boosting seven-day average back to over 1 million doses per day.
Globally, more than 2.06 billion doses have been administered across 176 countries, at a rate of 37 million doses a day, Bloomberg reported.
The means roughly 13.5 percent of the global population has received a dose.
The U.S. has administered 299 million doses of the vaccine so far, Bloomberg reported.
Virologists fear that if fewer than 70 per cent of the population receives the vaccine, it will be impossible to reach ‘herd immunity,’ and COVID will continue to spread.
In May, U.S. regulators authorized Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine for use in children as young as 12, widening vaccine eligibility to about 17 million more Americans, a step that U.S. officials would hope speed the nation’s progress toward herd immunity.
California Governor Gavin Newsom also announced state lottery winners on Friday, taking a gameshow host approach to the vaccination lottery.
Newsom drew California’s first 15 winners of $50,000 prizes for getting vaccinated against the coronavirus from a lottery machine.
The drawing is the first in a series of drawings, culminating in 10 grand prizes of $1.5 million each on June 15, the day when the state expects to drop almost all coronavirus related restrictions on businesses and gatherings, AP reported.
The winners, who have to choice to remain anonymous, have 96 hours to claim their prizes before the state draws alternate winners.
Friday’s winners came from all over the state, including Los Angeles, San Diego, Orange, Santa Clara, San Francisco, Alameda, San Luis Obispo and Mendocino counties, AP reported.
Average daily vaccinations have fallen from more than three million per day in April to fewer than 1.5 million per day in June
Health experts credit falling numbers to vaccinations with 50.9% of the U.S. population, including children 12 and older, have received at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose and 41.2% having completed their vaccine series
Other states are offering up huge cash prizes, including New Mexico which currently has the largest vaccine lottery in the nation with its Vax 2 the Max program.
Residents can win several prizes from a $10 million total pool and the winner taking home a grand prize of $5 million.
Lotteries have been funded by emergency federal pandemic funds, with state governors insisting they represent good value for money.
Last month Ohio Governor Mike DeWine announced a $1 million prize for five people 18 years and older who receive a COVID vaccine.
Two of those prizes have so far been given out. Amazon delivery driver Jonathan Carlyle, from Toledo, was named the second winner on Wednesday.
Abbey Bugenske, a 22 year-old student, became the state’s first winner on May 27.
Five people ages 12-17 are also eligible to win a four-year, full-ride scholarship to an Ohio state college or university, Spokesman.com reported.
The Ohio Department of Health said vaccinations for those 16 and older increased by 28 percent the weekend following the lottery announcement.
Meanwhile in West Virginia the lottery prizes are more varied.
In addition to a $1 million cash prize, vaccinated West Virginians are eligible to win five custom hunting rifles and shotguns, and five lifetime licenses for hunting and fishing.
West Virginia prizes also includes two new custom-outfitted trucks and 25 weekend getaways to local state parks as well as two full four-year scholarships to in-state colleges will be offered to those between the ages of 12 and 15 in a separate lottery.
‘The prizes to me are secondary to the fact that we’re trying to save your life,’ West Virginia Gov Jim Justice said at a news conference.
The governor also pointed out the importance of residents getting vaccinated.
‘All of our hospitalizations, all of all our our ICU units, all of our deaths, for the most part, are all people that have not been vaccinated. I don’t know how it gets any simpler than that,’ Justice said.
‘These vaccinations are amazingly safe and they’ll protect you.’
‘I don’t know how in the world people are sitting on the sidelines still saying: ”No, I’m not going to do one, I’m not going to do it.”