SAN DIEGO (KGTV) -- Fifteen vaccinated Californians, including three from San Diego County, were selected on Friday to receive $50,000 each in the first drawing of the state’s Vax for the Win incentive program.
The winners were picked from among 21.5 million eligible California residents who have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine prior to Friday's drawing. To actually receive the money, the winners will have to complete the vaccination protocol by receiving their second dose, unless they received the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
In a game-show-like format, Gov. Gavin Newsom presided over the selection of winners. The pool of 21.5 million eligible residents was initially randomly pared down to 200, then winnowed to 50. The final selection was done using a Bingo-style machine, with 50 numbered balls dropping into a twirling cylinder, from which the 15 winners were chosen.
None of the winners were identified by name, only by county, in order to maintain privacy. Winners will be contacted by telephone. If any of the 15 chosen winners turn out to be ineligible -- such as being employed by the governor's office or incarcerated -- alternate winners will be chosen from those remaining in Friday's pool of 50 finalists.
Fifteen more vaccinated Californians will each get $50,000 in a drawing on June 11.
On June 15, when California is set to fully reopen, 10 people will be selected in another drawing to each receive $1.5 million.
The first 2 million Californians who received their first vaccine shot on or after May 27 will be automatically eligible to win $50 grocery store gift cards.
Newsom said Friday more than 38.6 million doses of vaccine have been administered in the state, with 52% of the state's population now considered fully vaccinated. More than 70% of the state's adult population has received at least one dose of vaccine, he said.
"So we're here proud, but also mindful of the work that's in front of us, particularly in this light -- I've said this often, getting from 30 to 40 percent of people vaccinated, that's an easy 10 percent. Moving from 70 percent of adults to 75 and beyond, that's stubborn. That's difficult work," Newsom said.
He said the reality of the declining rate of people receiving their first dose of vaccine prompted the financial incentive program.
"I know some are cynical about these things, some are in denial that they should have any role to play as it relates to doing the right thing, and that's getting a life-saving shot that will not only support your own success throughout this pandemic, getting us to the other side, but also supporting the health and safety of your loved ones, the broader community and the state and nation," he said.
San Diego community advocates said they are seeing a difference since Newsom announced the incentive program in late May.
“We have had people reaching out and inquiring what the program is eligibility requirements are and wanting to know where to get a vaccine at and still get appointments,” said Nancy Maldonado, CEO of the Chicano Federation.
Prior to the implementation of Vax for the Win, the state and San Diego County started to see a drop in vaccination appointments and a slow down at vaccination sites.
Maldonado added, “It's really about being out in the community and having those conversations with people who are unsure to address their specific concerns they are more likely to listen to people they trust and know.”
According to the state’s website, those who are picked in the drawing will be notified by the California Department of Public Health. The names of winners will not be publicized.
For information on finding vaccine clinics or signing up for appointments, visit https://myturn.ca.gov.