Governor Mills announces ‘Vaccinationland’ lottery draw

On June 16, Governor Mills announced the creation of a raffle for Mainers who have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

The “Don’t Miss Your Shot: Vaccinationland Sweepstakes” will award the winner $ 1 for each resident of Maine who receives at least one injection of COVID-19 by 6:00 am on July 4th. The cash prize will be donated from funds allocated to the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) of the Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF) through Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and. Economic Security Act (CARES) for vaccination purposes.

To be eligible, residents must have received their first dose since December 15, 2020 and must submit an entry by midnight on July 1, 2021. According to the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 102,427 residents entered the draw. randomly within the first 24 hours. The program is already more attractive than the governor’s vaccine incentive program unveiled last month.

At the time Mills announced the raffle, the prize totaled $ 876,655. But that number could increase if all eligible Mainers over the age of 12 receive at least one dose by the July 4 deadline.

This deadline reflects President Biden’s goal of having 70% of Americans aged 18 or older receive at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine by July 4.

However, Maine’s vaccination rate has already exceeded this target. Maine hit the 70% mark for adults who had received at least one dose of the vaccine on May 12. As of June 17, 74% of Mainers aged 12 and over have received at least one dose of the vaccine and 66.7% are fully immunized. . The rate of fully immunized Maine residents over the age of 12 is one of the highest in the country.

In a press release announcing the vaccination draw, Mills and DHHS Commissioner Jeanne Lambrew explained that the surge in vaccinations, despite the state’s already high rate, is a way to encourage even more of people to be vaccinated.

“Our goal with the Don’t Miss Your Shot: Vaccinationland contest is to encourage even more people to get vaccinated and declare their independence from COVID-19 as July 4 approaches,” said Mills said in a statement released by his office. .

“The raffle is just one way for us to promote these safe and effective vaccines as we all work together to put the pandemic behind us as quickly as possible,” Lambrew said in the same statement.

Neither the DHHS nor the governor’s office returned a request for comment.

State use of CRF funds is limited to necessary expenses incurred due to the COVID-19 public health emergency, not included in a state’s most recently adopted budget before March 27, 2020, and which were incurred between March 1, 2020 and December 31, 2021.

But the Federal Treasury Department said the CRF can be used for lotteries and other cash incentives for vaccines as long as it is “reasonably expected” to increase vaccination rates and the costs incurred are commensurate. to the expected benefit for public health.

However, the supplementary budget passed on March 15 requires that any COVID-19-related spending the governor proposes to use from federal discretionary funds be approved by a majority vote in both legislative chambers if they have not been approved. before the effective date of the budget. in force.

Maine received $ 1.25 billion in CRF from the CARES Act. On December 11, 2020, Mills’ office announced that the governor had committed all of the funds the state had received, “nearly half” supporting Maine businesses affected by the pandemic and “significant funding” going health and safety initiatives.

According to the state’s COVID-19 federal funds tracker, Maine has allocated 29% of its CRF funds to healthcare companies. As of March 15, 2021, approximately $ 25,504,034 had been spent on the purchase of personal protective equipment for the inventory managed by the Maine Emergency Management Agency and the Maine CDC and distributed to long-term care facilities, nursing homes. nursing and hospitals. An additional $ 999,000 was spent on infection control training for community care facilities other than nursing homes.

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