BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Gov. Larry Hogan on Tuesday launched a $2 million lottery for Marylanders who have received their booster shot, following similar campaigns that encouraged adults and children ages 12-17 to get vaccinated when doses first became widely available.
The Maryland Lottery will hold one drawing a week over 12 weeks, using a random number generator to pick a winner. No registration or entry is necessary.READ MORE: Maryland Weather: Severe Storm Threat Prompts Alert Day Saturday
The first drawing is scheduled for Feb. 15 and will be for a $500,000 prize.
Between weeks 2-11, $50,000 prizes will be given out. The lottery will end with a $1 million drawing on the 12th and final week. In total, 12 Marylanders will receive part of the big payout.
Everyone age 18 and older who has received all their vaccine doses and a booster shot in Maryland is eligible for the drawings, Hogan said.
Last May, the state awarded $40,000 prizes over the course of 40 days, culminating in a $400,000 grand prize drawing on the Fourth of July, to incentive vaccinations.
In July, the state awarded $50,000 college scholarships to 20 Marylander between the ages of 12 and 17 who got vaccinated.
Speaking Tuesday, the governor said both initiatives were a success, and he wants to use this new campaign to reach people who didn’t realize the importance of a booster dose, were on the fence about getting one or haven’t gotten around to getting the shot.
“All of the data shows that protection does wane over time, and so no one should consider themselves fully protected unless you have gotten a booster shot,” Hogan said.
Earlier in the day the governor lauded a vaccine milestone in the state: 95% of adults age 18 and older have received at least one dose of the vaccine.READ MORE: Baltimore Police Stepping Up Deployment On Fourth Of July Weekend, Commissioner Says
As of Tuesday, the state has administered 4,654,648 first-dose shots and 4,085,827 second-dose shots, plus 332,895 single-dose Johnson & Johnson shots, according to data from the Maryland Department of Health.
By comparison, only 2,076,085 Marylanders have received their booster. While 72% of seniors have gotten the additional dose, just over half of adults age 18 and older have done so, the governor said.
“That’s a lot better, again, than the rest of the country, but it’s not good enough,” he said.
Following an Omicron-driven surge in new cases hospitalizations, Maryland officials are seeing “very encouraging trends” in key heath metrics, Hogan said.
After peaking at 29.98% in early January, the state’s positivity rate is down to 5.81%, and hospitalizations have fallen from a high of 3,462 patients to 1,111.
Hogan said the state’s Coronavirus Response Team reported the latest surge shows the importance of boosters.
While most of the hospitalizations and deaths are among the unvaccinated, people who have not received the additional dose are twice as likely to test positive for COVID-19 and three times as likely to be hospitalized or die from the virus, he said.
“These trends apply across all age groups,” Hogan said. “It is clear that getting fully protected with a booster is the single most important thing that you can do right now to minimize the impact of COVID-19 and its variants and to help us finally move on from this pandemic.”
The state is also ramping up outreach by phone and text to Marylanders who have not received a booster dose and offering shots at hospital-based sites as the demand for testing decreases, the governor said.MORE NEWS: State Police Expand Traffic Enforcement On I-83 In Baltimore City
The Vaccine Equity Task Force will also partner with community groups to offer booster clinics.