California to offer $116.5mn Covid vax incentives


California, the most populous US state, announced a decision to offer $116.5 million in prize money to stimulate residents to get vaccinated against Covid-19, as it prepares to fully reopen on June 15.

Starting Thursday, the state will give $50 gift cards for grocery or other uses to the first 2 million Californians who get shots, Governor Gavin Newsom announced.

Meanwhile, all those aged 12 or older who received at least a dose will be automatically eligible for the prize money drawing in June, reports Xinhua news agency.

Top 10 winners will receive $1.5 million each on the first day of the state’s reopening.

Another 30 people will take a $50,000 prize on June 4 and 11, according to the rules.

“Getting every eligible Californian vaccinated is how we bring our state roaring back from this pandemic,” said Newsom in a statement.

He said the state has made big progress in the fight against the pandemic, with the lowest case rates in the country and doses administered millions more than any other state.

Last week, Newsom unveiled plans to fully reopen California’s economy on June 15 amid dropping cases and vaccine eligibility expansion in his state, once the country’s epicentre.

Home to around 40 million residents, the state has confirmed more than 3.67 million cases and 61,855 related deaths to date, according to the Department of Public Health.

More than 62.8 per cent of Californians aged 12 or older are at least partially vaccinated, but an estimated 12 million people who are eligible were yet to receive a jab.