FILE - Dr. Ngozi Ezike

Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike speaks at a vaccination site on Thursday, April 8, 2021.

(The Center Square) – Illinoisans who already have or plan to get a COVID-19 shot will have a shot at cash prizes or scholarships from federal tax dollars.

The state of Illinois has announced a new vaccination lottery with $10 million in total prize money. The “All in For the Win” vaccine lottery, which will award $7 million in cash prizes to residents over 18, and $3 million in scholarships to those aged 12 to 17. Anyone who has received or gets at least one vaccine dose in Illinois is eligible to win.

Starting July 8 and throughout the summer, the Illinois State Lottery will make drawings of $100,000 to $1 million for those 18 and older and Bright Start College Savings Plan awards of $150,000 for those ages 12 to 17.

Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said the goal is to persuade those still on the fence about getting vaccinated.

“They just need a nudge if they haven’t done it yet,” Ezike said. “The chance to win $100,000 or a million dollars or a college scholarship for their child is just that nudge to get them off of their seat and get the vaccine.”

One million dollars will up for grabs July 8, then $100,000 prizes will be awarded throughout the summer. Two $1,000,000 prizes will be given away during a grand finale August 26.

Winners will be notified by the Illinois Department of Public Health by phone and email. IDPH will make multiple attempts to reach each winner. Winners can choose to remain anonymous.

Several states have implemented lotteries in an attempt to boost vaccination rates. In Ohio, state officials said vaccination rates rose by 45% following the announcement of the “Vax-a-million” lottery in May. West Virginia, New Mexico and Minnesota also unveiled vaccination lotteries.

California is going all-in on its vaccine incentive program touting the lottery as the biggest in the entire country. The state is enticing residents with more than $116 million in prizes, including a $15 million grand prize to be split among ten Californians who have been vaccinated.

The money for Illinois’ vaccination lottery is coming from federal grants the state received to fight the pandemic.

Winners can choose to remain anonymous. 

Staff Reporter

Kevin Bessler reports on statewide issues in Illinois for the Center Square. He has over 30 years of experience in radio news reporting throughout the Midwest.