By Spy Uganda
US State-California held its first COVID-19 lottery over the weekend, which saw 15 vaccinated residents of the state win $50,000 each as part of a host of efforts across the United States to encourage Americans who have since resisted what they called deadly vaccines.
California is the most populous state in the US, with nearly 40 million residents, and its programme is the largest in the nation. The state government has set aside $116m in cash prizes and incentives as part of “Vax for the Win”, including awarding a $50 grocery gift card to the first 2 million people vaccinated since May 27.
Faced with a nationwide slowdown, other states have undertaken similar lotteries, including Washington, Colorado and Ohio, which has already given $1m to two vaccinated residents as part of a lottery that will give away $5m in total.
The head of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Friday urged American parents to vaccinate adolescent children.
Dr Rochelle Walensky cited “severe health impacts of COVID-19 on adolescents” and a report on a spike in hospitalizations in that age group.
The US began vaccinating children with the Pfizer jab on May 10, but the World Health Organization has said children – who face little danger of death from the virus – are “not a high priority” as the global shortage continues.
The lotteries are meant to help reach President Joe Biden’s goal of 70 percent of the US fully vaccinated by July 4. The Biden administration has partnered with childcare providers to offer free childcare to those who get the vaccine, and some businesses are offering incentives like free groceries and beer.
More than 596,000 people have died from COVID-19 in the US, according to the Johns Hopkins University tally, the highest in the world.
The US saw most of these deaths occur in 2020 before the country became one of the world’s leading nations for vaccinations.
Biden said he envisioned a “summer of freedom, a summer of joy, a summer of get-togethers and celebrations, an all-American summer that this country deserves after a long, long dark winter”, on Thursday.
That is Biden’s vision for the US, which has a surplus of jabs, as the rest of the world struggles to obtain enough vaccines to meet demand.
The US announced yesterday it will share a stockpile of 25 million doses with the world, 75 percent of which will go to the United Nations COVAX vaccine sharing programme.
Governments of nations like India, which set a grim record of 4,529 daily deaths on May 19, and Brazil, which saw more than 2,500 people die on Wednesday, are scrambling to procure more doses.