It looks like it takes more than a very outside chance at a cool million to lure many people in the state into getting vaccinated for COVID-19.
According to information from state health officials, as of Tuesday, July 6, 43 percent of the state’s total population had been fully vaccinated, and 53 percent of those 18 and over had been.
Those numbers are below state and federal goals set earlier this year. Even North Carolina’s offer of a place in a lottery for $1 million doesn’t seem to be moving the needle much. Early in the vaccination program, the percentage of vaccinated in the state shot up weekly, but now those numbers only crawl forward.
A good percentage of those in the state age 65 or older have been vaccinated – 80 percent – however, in the categories for those less at risk, there’s clearly a great deal of “vaccine hesitancy.”
On Wednesday, July 7 at 10 a.m., the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) – along with the NC Education Lottery – will continue the random drawings for the “Summer Cash Drawing and Summer Cash 4 College Drawing” program – the enticement meant to get more North Carolinians to get vaccinated.
North Carolinians 18 and older who’ve received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine are automatically entered into the drawings for a chance to win a $1 million cash prize. Those between the ages of 12 and 17 who have received at least one dose are automatically entered into the drawings to win $125,000 towards their post-secondary education.
Some people are no doubt drawn in by the chance at the money, but these days the vaccine scene is nothing like it was a few months ago when people were frantically jockeying for a place in line to get shots.
In the first of four $1 million dollar drawings, in late June lighting did strike at least close to Guilford County. Shelly Wyramon, a teacher from Winston-Salem, won the $1 million prize. The state announced her good fortune on Monday, June 28.
Vania Martinez, a 14-year-old from Wilmington, won the $125,000 scholarship.
On Tuesday, July 6, the state issued an invitation to media outlets across North Carolina to come to Raleigh and cover the next July 7 drawing – no doubt to generate more publicity for the lottery and see if that would convince more state residents.
After the numbers are drawn in each contest, NCDHHS officials determine the identities of the vaccinated people that correspond to the winning numbers. NCDHHS then verifies that the presumed winners don’t fall under any exclusions from participation in the program and they contact the winners “to get their consent to receive the funds and release their identities.” That process takes several days.
Here are some people who aren’t eligible: The governor and his immediate family; members of the North Carolina Council of State and their immediate family; the secretary of NCDHHS and her immediate family. The independent auditor certifying the drawing is also ineligible, and, interestingly, so is “Any member of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (EBCI) who has access to the vaccination database for the EBCI.”
The $4 Million Summer Cash and Summer Cash 4 College Drawings program runs through Wednesday, Aug. 4, when the final drawing will be held. (New entries close at midnight on the Sunday prior to the Wednesday drawings, and the names of all winners will be made public once they’re verified and the winners give consent.)
The odds of winning? Well, that depends on the total number of eligible entries, but, since the demand for the vaccine is relatively low right now, you may have a better shot at a million than heading to Vegas will give you.