California held its first COVID-19 lottery on Friday, which saw 15 vaccinated residents of the state win $50,000 each as part of a host of efforts across the United States to encourage Americans reluctant to take one of the country’s jabs, as the world struggles with rising cases and deaths amid a global shortage.
California is the most populous state in the US, with nearly 40 million residents, and its programme is the largest in the nation. The state government has set aside $116m in cash prizes and incentives as part of “Vax for the Win”, including awarding a $50 grocery gift card to the first 2 million people vaccinated since May 27.
Faced with a nationwide slowdown, other states have undertaken similar lotteries, including Washington, Colorado and Ohio, which has already given $1m to two vaccinated residents as part of a lottery that will give away $5m in total.
Ohio’s governor Mike DeWine congratulated the second winner on Twitter.
Congratulations, Jonathan! You just won a million dollars! Thank you for getting vaccinated! pic.twitter.com/EalWPMBagX
— Mike DeWine (@MikeDeWine) June 3, 2021
Anyone 12 and older who has received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine is eligible for California’s giveaways, Southern California’s ABC 7 reported.
The head of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Friday urged American parents to vaccinate adolescent children.
Dr Rochelle Walensky cited “severe health impacts of COVID-19 on adolescents” and a report on a spike in hospitalizations in that age group.
The US began vaccinating children with the Pfizer jab on May 10, but the World Health Organization has said children – who face little danger of death from the virus – are “not a high priority” as the global shortage continues.
Surplus and shortages
The lotteries are meant to help reach President Joe Biden’s goal of 70 percent of the US fully vaccinated by July 4. The Biden administration has partnered with childcare providers to offer free childcare to those who get the vaccine, and some businesses are offering incentives like free groceries and beer.
More than 596,000 people have died from COVID-19 in the US, according to the Johns Hopkins University tally, the highest in the world.
The US saw most of these deaths occur in 2020, before the country became one of the world’s leading nations for vaccinations.
Biden said he envisioned a “summer of freedom, a summer of joy, a summer of get-togethers and celebrations, an all-American summer that this country deserves after a long, long dark winter”, on Thursday.
That is Biden’s vision for the US, which has a surplus of jabs, as the rest of the world struggles to obtain enough vaccines to meet demand.
The US announced yesterday it will share a stockpile of 25 million doses with the world, 75 percent of which will go to the United Nations COVAX vaccine sharing programme.
Governments of nations like India, which set a grim record of 4,529 daily deaths on May 19, and Brazil, which saw more than 2,500 people die on Wednesday, are scrambling to procure more doses.
The Pan American Health Organization has warned Latin America’s 2021 COVID-19 surge could be worse that 2020. Cases of the virus are rising across the Americas, except for Mexico, the US and Canada.
Numerous countries have requested jabs from the US, but only Mexico and Canada have received a combined 4.5 million doses so far.
The mayor of Windsor, Canada that sits across the border from the US city of Detroit, has proposed holding cross-border vaccination clinics in a tunnel that connects the cities.
“Your feet will be firmly planted in Canada and the pharmacist’s feet will be firmly planted in the US, and they’ll just reach across and give you the vaccine,” Mayor Drew Dilkens said on Thursday, according to Canadian broadcaster, CBC.
Only 6.4 percent of Canadians are fully vaccinated, according to statistics cited by Our World in Data. The US has fully vaccinated 41.2 percent of its population, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data.
Canada has set a target of vaccinating everyone who wants to be protected against COVID-19 by September’s end.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced on Friday the government negotiated an option with Pfizer for an extra 3 million doses of its COVID-19 vaccine for delivery in September.