LOS ANGELES (CNS) — Three Los Angeles County residents and one Orange County resident were among the first 15 winners chosen Friday to receive $50,000 each in the state's COVID-19 vaccination incentive program.
The winners were picked from among 21.5 million eligible California residents who have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine prior to Friday's drawing. To actually receive the money, the winners will have to complete the vaccination protocol by receiving their second dose, unless they received the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
In a game-show-like format, Gov. Gavin Newsom presided over the selection of winners. The pool of 21.5 million eligible residents was initially randomly pared down to 200, then winnowed to 50. The final selection was done using a Bingo-style machine, with 50 numbered balls dropping into a twirling cylinder, from which the 15 winners were chosen.
None of the winners were identified by name, only by county, in order to maintain privacy. Winners will be contacted by telephone. If any of the 15 chosen winners turn out to be ineligible — such as being employed by the governor's office or incarcerated — alternate winners will be chosen from those remaining in Friday's pool of 50 finalists.
Gov. Gavin Newsom announced the "Vax for the Win" incentive program last week. The $116.5 million program will dole out $50,000 prizes to another 15 people next Friday, and on June 15 — the day the state lifts the bulk of its COVID-19 restrictions — 10 winners will be chosen to receive $1.5 million each.
The state has also been handing out $50 grocery or gift cards to newly vaccinated residents who complete the two-dose protocol.
Newsom said Friday more than 38.6 million doses of vaccine have been administered in the state, with 52% of the state's population now considered fully vaccinated. More than 70% of the state's adult population has received at least one dose of vaccine, he said.
"So we're here proud, but also mindful of the work that's in front of us, particularly in this light — I've said this often, getting from 30 to 40 percent of people vaccinated, that's an easy 10 percent. Moving from 70 percent of adults to 75 and beyond, that's stubborn. That's difficult work," Newsom said.
He said the reality of the declining rate of people receiving their first dose of vaccine prompted the financial incentive program.
"I know some are cynical about these things, some are in denial that they should have any role to play as it relates to doing the right thing, and that's getting a life-saving shot that will not only support your own success throughout this pandemic, getting us to the other side, but also supporting the health and safety of your loved ones, the broader community and the state and nation," he said.