ONE MASSACHUSETTS adult is about to become $1 million richer when the first VaxMillions winner is pulled on Monday. But despite the trove of cash and scholarships on the line, most eligible residents still haven’t signed up for the lottery and vaccination rates continue to decline.
Thursday was the last day for fully-vaccinated residents to enter the state’s vaccine lottery—an initiative to encourage people to get COVID-19 shots—to be eligible for the first of five drawings. The governor’s office reported that nearly 2 million adults and 134,885 individuals ages 12 to 17 have entered the lottery. The total, just over 2 million, represents less than half of the 4.3 million people who are fully vaccinated in the state.
The numbers are up from 1.8 million adults and 122,207 children registered the week prior.
Those who weren’t vaccinated in time to enter the first round could still throw their name in the hat for the remaining four drawings. The allure of the million-dollar prizes for adults and $300,000 scholarships for minors doesn’t seem to be driving up vaccination rates, though.
The rate of new doses fell once more last week, with 53,177 doses administered between July 14 and 20. That’s down about 7 percent from the week prior, when just over 62,000 doses were administered. It’s also lower than the week of July 4 when barbecues and fireworks distracted people from getting a prick.
VaxMillions is open to anyone who has been fully vaccinated, but it was launched in a bid to convince those who are reluctant to become vaccinated to get the shots or shots. While it’s difficult to tell whether the lottery game is doing its job — convincing people to get vaccinated — the steadily declining number of doses administered suggest the payoff may not be worth the $10 million cost of the game.
Those who are entered have a better-than-average chance at winning big. In the state’s traditional lottery games, the odds of winning such a large sum range from one in 5 million to one in 13 million. Adult VaxMillions entrants have about a one in 2 million chance at millionaire status and kids have close to a one in 135,000 chance at escaping student loans.
While the first winner will be drawn July 26, it will be another three days until the public knows who cashed out. Like all lotteries in the state, a random number generator assigns each entrant a number and selects a potential winner plus a group of alternates in case the original is found to be ineligible. The Massachusetts Department of Public Health then has to confirm the individual’s vaccination status, contact them, and allow 24 hours for a response. By Thursday, the first two winners’ names will be made public at vaxmillionsgiveaway.com.
The remaining drawings will take place on each of the first four Mondays of August and the last two winners will be announced August 26.