Alaska announces weekly $49,000 lottery to encourage COVID-19 vaccination

A person shows a sticker showing they got a first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine
A client shows her sticker after getting a first dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at a mass vaccination clinic at the Captain Cook Hotel in Anchorage on March 24, 2021 (Lex Treinen / Alaska Public Media)

Alaskans have a new incentive to get vaccinated against COVID-19: a chance to win $49,000 each week. 

The lottery program, called Give AK a Shot, was announced Thursday. It’s organized by the Alaska Chamber and paid for with roughly $1 million in federal CARES Act funding, received through a grant from the state health department. 

Alaska Chamber President and CEO Kati Capozzi tied the incentive program to economic recovery.

“More people choosing to vaccinate will directly result in a healthier workforce, and a health care system and help get our economy back on track, which is what the Alaska Chamber is all about,” she said at a news conference announcing the program.

Each week through the end of October, Alaska residents who submit proof that they got the first dose of an approved COVID-19 vaccine during the previous week to GiveAKaShot.com will be entered into the drawing.

One adult and one youth will win $49,000 apiece every week. For Alaskans age 18 and up, the prize is paid in cash. For the younger winners, the $49,000 will be paid into a scholarship fund, plus their parents will receive an extra $10,000 cash if they’re also vaccinated. 

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To be eligible for the lottery, residents must have gotten their vaccine shot in Alaska. The first drawing entries are due by Sept. 11 and the first winners will be announced Sept. 16. 

Winners’ names will be announced at a weekly COVID-19 press call at 1:30 p.m. on Thursdays. Organizers emphasized that the program is voluntary. 

“No one is forced to enter, anyone who doesn’t want their name made public should not participate,” said Capozzi

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For Alaskans who got vaccinated prior to Sept. 2, there is still a chance to win $49,000. Those residents can submit their proof of vaccination online any time between now and Oct. 30. Two winners from that group will be announced on Nov. 4.

About 55% of Alaskans 12 years and older have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19. According to national rankings, Alaska is 33rd out of the 50 states for its percent of fully-vaccinated residents age 18 and up.

Many states have tried incentive programs. And while financial incentives have motivated some people to get a COVID-19 vaccine, other programs have reported limited success in increasing vaccination rates, at least in the short-term. 

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Correction: This story has been updated to clarify that Alaskans must have recently gotten their first dose of the vaccine to enter, not a dose.

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