Coronavirus: New York giving out lottery scratch-off tickets to adults who get vaccinated

NEW YORK CITY — Officials in New York announced on Thursday that they will give away lottery scratch-off tickets to adults who get vaccinated at any of the state’s 10 mass vaccination sites.

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“Today we announce a major statewide vaccination incentive for those who have not yet received the vaccine,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said at a news conference. “You get a vaccination, and you get a lottery ticket for the $5 million Mega Multiplier New York State Lottery.”

The program, dubbed “Vax & Scratch,” is aimed at giving vaccine hesitant New Yorkers a reason to get their shots. It follows similar efforts in states like Ohio, where Gov. Mike DeWine last week announced five $1 million drawings for adults who get vaccines in the state.

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In New York, Cuomo described Vax & Scratch as a pilot program that will run from May 24 to May 28 at the state’s 10 mass vaccination sites.

“In essence, get a vaccination and you get a free $20 scratch-off ticket for the multiplier game, 100% free,” Cuomo said. He added that the ticket being given away as part of the program “has a first prize of $5 million, but (also) a number of prizes that go down to $20.”

“The chances of winning something in this program are 1 in 9 that you win something,” he said.

The program announcement comes as the number of people getting vaccinated falls nationwide. In New York, Cuomo said that between April 12 and May 19, officials noted a 43% decline in the number of people being vaccinated.

“First, the people who were the most willing to take the vaccine came in first,” Cuomo said Thursday. “Now we’re getting to a percentage of the population that not only is not eager, but a percentage of the population that is probably going to require an incentive for them to go forward and take the vaccine.”

Nationwide, just under 50% of the total population has gotten at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccines available in the U.S., according to numbers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. About 38% of the population -- 125.4 million people -- have so far been fully vaccinated.

About 33 million COVID-19 cases have been reported across the country, resulting in nearly 588,000 deaths, according to a tally from Johns Hopkins University. Globally, 165 million COVID-19 cases have been reported, resulting in 3.4 million deaths.