CHICAGO (CBS) — In an effort to boost lagging vaccination rates in Illinois, Gov. JB Pritzker on Thursday announced the state will offer $10 million in prizes for people who have had at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine – $7 million in cash prizes for vaccinated adults, and $3 million in scholarships for vaccinated youth ages 12 to 17.
Starting July 8 and throughout summer, the Illinois Lottery will be drawing names of adults who have been vaccinated, and giving out cash prizes ranging from $100,000 to $1 million, according to Pritzker. For kids age 12 to 17 who have had at least one dose of the vaccine, they can win a Bright Start college savings plan worth $150,000 each – the equivalent of a full ride at any four-year public university in Illinois.READ MORE: 'John Doe' Who Accused Former Blackhawks Video Coach Brad Aldrich Of Sexual Abuse Identifies Himself As Kyle Beach
Illinois lawmakers authorized the Illinois Lottery and the Illinois Department of Public Health to implement the promotion as part of the recently approved state budget.
Dubbed “All In For The Win,” Pritzker said drawings for the state’s vaccine lottery will be held both statewide, and within each of the state’s 11 health regions, to ensure winners are selected across the state.
The governor said, because people who have been vaccinated in Illinois filled out a form providing their name and address to get a shot, they don’t need to sign up for the lottery prizes, and will automatically be included in the drawings.
“They’re automatically entered, and if they win they’ll be contacted by the Department of Public Health, and whether or not they choose to be revealed as a person who won, or just to win and not have their name revealed, will be up to them,” he said.
Pritzker said anyone who gets at least one dose of the vaccine by July 1 will be eligible for the first drawing. Officials will check state vaccination records before each drawing to ensure any newly vaccinated people are entered into subsequent drawings.
The governor said anyone can get vaccinated for free at most pharmacies, clinics, or doctors’ offices in Illinois. To find vaccine site near you, visit vaccines.gov text zip code to 438829 or call 800-232-0233.
Vaccination rates in Illinois have dropped dramatically since peaking at more than 130,000 per day in mid-April. Illinois is averaging 40,998 vaccinations per day over the past week, down 69% from the peak on April 12.
Although the state is seeing historically low numbers of new cases of the virus, the governor COVID-19 is still a threat, and some new variants – which are more contagious and more likely to cause serious illness or death in unvaccinated people – are becoming more common.READ MORE: Chicago Weather: Showers Coming Thursday
“This might be a lottery, but COVID-19 is not a game. In the past 24 hours, we received reports of 16 additional deaths due to COVID-19,” Pritzker said.
The governor also noted that, in 2020, Illinois had more deaths from COVID-19 than from strokes and accidents combined
“With a vaccine widely available and free, it doesn’t have to be that way,” Pritzker said. “Getting the shot now is going to help us end this thing. So please vax up. Vax up Illinois. If you do, you might even hit the jackpot.”
Donna Thompson, CEO of ACCESS Community Health Network, a community health care network with 35 health centers in Chicago, said many people in Black and Brown communities, in particular, are still hesitant to get vaccinated.
“We want to increase and engage our vaccine-hesitant patients in one-on-one conversations about the vaccine, and why it is so important. Only with honest dialogue can we begin to dispel any of the myths and misconceptions,” she said.
The governor said the state has nearly reached President Joe Biden’s goal of having 70% of all adults with at least one dose of the vaccine. Pritzker said nearly 90% of Illinois seniors and nearly half of the overall population has had at least one dose.
“That’s a product of a tremendous team effort,” he said.
Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said, while it’s not realistic to expect 100% of people eventually will be vaccinated against COVID-19, “we don’t want to give up on anyone.”
Ezike said a lottery prize might be just the nudge some people need to get a shot.MORE NEWS: View Live Radar
“I think other people make decisions for their reasons, but people have to make their own decisions, and then also having this pretty exciting incentive as a further push, I think, will actually move the needle,” she said.