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‘Vax & Scratch’ lottery scheme aims to up New York COVID-19 shots

epa09090508 New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (C) speaks at Grace Baptist Church, a new pop-up COVID-19 vaccination site, in Mt. Vernon, New York, USA, 22 March 2021. New York State announced that beginning this week people 50 or older will be eligible to be vaccinated. EPA-EFE/SETH WENIG / POOL

NEW YORK, May 20 (Reuters) - You gotta get poked to win, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said on Thursday, unveiling a $5 million lottery prize incentive for New Yorkers who get their first COVID-19 vaccination shots next week.

By Barbara Goldberg

The “Vax & Scratch” program provides free state lottery scratch-off tickets to New Yorkers age 18 and older who get a first dose of the Moderna or Pfizer/BioNTech shot or the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine from May 24 to May 28.

“As vaccination rates slow across the state, we’re going to have to get creative to put even more shots in arms,” Cuomo said in a statement. “The more New Yorkers we get vaccinated, the faster we can return to a new normal.”

Cuomo said 63% of adult New Yorkers and 51% of all New Yorkers have received at least one dose of vaccine, with 54% of adult New Yorkers and 43% of all New Yorkers now fully vaccinated.

The scratch-off lottery tickets being used in the promotion normally sell for $20 and winners stand to take home anywhere from $20 to the grand prize of $5 million.

The ticket giveaway program is being offered at 10 mass vaccinations sites open for both walk-ins and appointments in regions across the state, including in New York City, Long Island, Mid-Hudson, Central New York, Finger Lakes, Mohawk Valley and Western New York.

It was announced a week after Ohio Governor Mike DeWine detailed his “Vax-a-Million” promotion that will give a $1 million prize each week for five weeks in a lottery for residents age 18 and older who have gotten at least one coronavirus inoculation.

The first winner will be revealed on May 26, and then winners will be announced each Wednesday until June 23.

A related lottery drawing is open to vaccinated Ohioans age 12 to 17, with five winners each landing a full four-year scholarship to an Ohio state university. With the total attendance cost for an in-state student at more than $24,000 each year, according to the university website, each four-year scholarship is worth more than $96,000. (Reporting by Barbara Goldberg Editing by Bill Berkrot)

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