(The Center Square) — All West Virginians who have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine can now register to enter into the state’s lottery program, which will give away cash gifts and prizes to the winners, Gov. Jim Justice announced.
The first lottery, which will include a grand prize of $1.588 million and a runner-up prize of $588,000, will be June 20, Father’s Day. Other prizes include scholarships to state universities, custom-outfitted pickup trucks, custom hunting rifles and shotguns and lifetime hunting and fishing licenses.
"This is a life changing opportunity in more ways than one," Justice said in a statement. "You have the power to not only safeguard your health as we continue to battle COVID-19, but you can also take home a number of wonderful prizes. It's a win-win situation that I hope all West Virginians will take advantage of."
Residents who have gotten a dose of the vaccine can register online. There are separate registrations for those who are adults and for those who are between the ages of 12 and 17.
Justice launched the program as a means to increase the state’s vaccine numbers and hit his goal for June 20, which is also the state’s 158th birthday. His plan received mixed feedback, with some policy groups suggesting it would save the state money in the long run and other groups arguing that the state did not do any analysis to see whether it was the best use of state money to increase vaccinations.
As of Friday, more than 59% of the eligible population has received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and nearly 48% have been fully vaccinated. The governor’s goal is to get 65% of the general population to receive at least their first dose by June 20.
The governor also hopes to get 85% of the 65 or older population to have their first vaccine by June 20. Currently, 84% have received at least one dose and 74.3% have been fully vaccinated.