New Mexico offers $10 million in cash and West Virginia offers custom guns in vaccine lottos

Two more states have announced giveaways to incentivize their residents to get vaccinated against COVID-19. 

New Mexico announced on Tuesday the largest vaccine lottery in the nation with its Vax 2 the Max program.

Residents can win several prizes from a $10 million total pool and the winner taking home a grand prize of $5 million. 

Meanwhile, in West Virginia, prizes include a total of $1 million in cash, five custom hunting rifles and shotguns, and five lifetime licenses for hunting and fishing.

The two states join California, Maryland, New York, Ohio and others that have recently used lotteries and raffles to get more of their population vaccinated – and to great effect.

New Mexico is offering up to $10 million in cash prizes for their vaccine lottery initiative. The state has been among the most successful states in getting their population vaccinated so far

West Virginia has struggled to get their residents vaccinated so far, but the interesting offering of guns and trucks in their rollout could get more West Virginians jabbed

West Virginia has struggled to get their residents vaccinated so far, but the interesting offering of guns and trucks in their rollout could get more West Virginians jabbed

Incentives to receive vaccines have become more common in the United States as vaccine demand has decreased over the past month, falling from an average of three million per day in April to 1.5 million per day, acurrently.

The full list of West Virginia prizes also includes two new custom-outfitted trucks and 25 weekend getaways to local state parks.

Additionally, two full four-year scholarships to in-state colleges will be offered to those between the ages of 12 and 15 in a separate lottery

‘The prizes to me are secondary to the fact that we’re trying to save your life,’ West Virginia Gov Jim Justice said at a news conference.

The governor also pointed out the importance of residents getting vaccinated. 

‘All of our hospitalizations, all of all our our ICU units, all of our deaths, for the most part, are all people that have not been vaccinated. I don’t know how it gets any simpler than that,’ Justice said.

‘These vaccinations are amazingly safe and they’ll protect you.’

‘I don’t know how in the world people are sitting on the sidelines still saying: “No, I’m not going to do one, I’m not going to do it.”‘

West Virginia chose a different route than other states, offering more specified prizes to their population who may be more interested in guns and trucks than just cash. 

Starting next week, officials in New Mexico will draw four prizes of $250,000 each along with smaller prizes such as in-state vacation packages and museum tickets. 

The $5 million grand prize drawing will be held in August. 

New Mexico Gov Michelle Lujan Grisham echoed a similar sentiment as her counterpart in West Virginia.

‘Getting vaccinated is the right thing to do – for yourself, for your family and for your state,’ she said.

‘I’m excited to add a little fun to our nation-leading vaccination push.’ 

New Mexico ranks within the top ten of states with the highest percentage of fully vaccinated residents, at 48 percent. 

More than one million New Mexicans are fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

West Virginia finds itself at the opposite side of the standings, ranking in the bottom 10 of states with the most population vaccinated, at only 34 percent.

Though the state does report that over half of its population over the age of 12 has received their first shot of the vaccine. 

Ohio’s Vax-a-Million program, which drew its first $1 million winner this week, was the first vaccine lottery program to garner national attention.

The program used federal relief funds to offer five weekly $1 million prizes in order to incentivize more Ohioans to get the shot.

Vaccination rate in the state went up by 55 percent after the announcement of the lottery among 20-to-49-year-olds. 

West Virginia and New Mexico hope to see similar gains after vaccine demand across the country plummeted during May.

Currently, more than 60 percent of the country’s adult population – and about half of the total U.S. population – has received at least one shot of the vaccine.

Experts believe between 75 and 80 percent of the population will need to get vaccinated in order to reach herd immunity, which seems like a long shot with the low vaccine demand.

A public health expert told last month that initiatives like the vaccine lotteries can help in the efforts to get more people vaccinated, but will not be a be-all-end-all solution to the problem of vaccine hesitancy in America. 

The initiatives all use Covid-19 relief money distributed to the states from the federal government as part of the CARES Act last year.  

Andy Slavitt, President Joe Biden’s senior advisor for COVID-19 response, said last month that the federal government approves of relief funds being used as vaccine incentives.