After removing all covid restrictions, there is some more good news for Michiganders.
On Thursday, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced $5 million in cash and college scholarships would be given away in lottery-style lucky draws to boost the COVID-19 vaccination rate in Michigan.
The program features a massive $2 million jackpot, a $1 million second prize, and 30 daily winnings of $50,000 for residents aged 18 and older with at least one shot of the COVID-19 vaccine.
Vaccinated residents between ages 12 to 17 are eligible for one of nine $55,000 four-year prepaid tuition contracts that are up for grabs.
The MI Shot to Win Sweepstakes follows several other states, including Ohio, that offered millions of dollars to boost vaccinations — with a mixed bag of results.
In a news conference on Thursday, Whitmer said, "It's an exciting opportunity for so many people in Michigan state to do what they need to do to protect themselves and our communities and also get an opportunity to win a big prize."
The Michigan Association of United Ways and Meijer will be operating the sweepstakes that will end in August. The state that encountered legal restrictions against directly running any lottery will fund the raffles with federal coronavirus relief aid allocated to Michigan.
Starting Thursday, residents willing to participate must sign up at www.MIShotToWin.com or call (888) 535-6136. All vaccinated individuals are eligible for the $1 million and $2 million drawings, held on or about July 11 and Aug. 4.
However, only the newly vaccinated residents are eligible for the $50,000 daily prizes. Those draws will start from Tuesday and will correspond to the specific day people get their first shot.
The drawing for the Michigan Education Trust contracts will happen on or about Aug. 4. These contracts cover full tuition and mandatory fees at any state university and can be used to drop them for students who attend private or out-of-state colleges.
Whitmer warned the residents that the coronavirus remains a threat to the unvaccinated — mainly due to the recent spread of the more transmissible Delta variant.
Currently, nearly 62% of Michigan residents ages 16 and above have received at least one vaccine dose, ranking it in the middle among states, as new infections have plunged.
Whitmer and state health officials want to vaccinate 678,000 additional people to achieve the 70% vaccination target.
The weekly number of first doses administered had dropped for the fifth straight week. It was roughly 36,000 last week, 9% of the high from early April when Michigan opened eligibility to everyone authorized.
"Vaccine lotteries in other states have proved very effective at getting more people vaccinated at a quick pace," said Kerry Ebersole Singh, director of the Protect Michigan Commission, which promotes the vaccine's effectiveness and works to subdue any hesitation.
Dr. James Grant, Chief Medical officer and Senior Vice President at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, says, "It's the best defense, the best line against COVID-19. Herd immunity has been effective against measles, mumps, polio, chickenpox, amongst so many other infectious diseases. We just have to get to that point now with COVID."
He strongly encouraged people to get vaccinated.
Only time will tell if the Sweepstakes announced by the state will motivate Michiganians to take their jabs and help Whitmer and the team achieve the 70% vaccination target.
As rightly mentioned by her, the new Delta strand of the virus is a danger lurking around the corner. Many people are getting infected with this highly transmissible variant globally, and many countries are again going into lockdown.
Unfortunately, the vaccine seems to be the only answer as of now, and the only chance of survival for mankind.
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