$50K for a Vaccine? 3 San Diego County Residents Chosen as Part of State's First Winners for $116.5M COVID-19 Vax Incentive Plan

Another 15 winners will be chosen on June 11 for $50,000 prizes and, on June 15, another 10 winners will be chosen to receive grand prizes of $1.5 million

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Three lucky -- and vaccinated --San Diego County residents will be $50,000 richer after they were among the 15 Californians selected as winners in the first round of the state's $116.5 million “Vax for the Win” coronavirus vaccination incentive program

California Gov. Gavin Newsom launched the program’s “$50,000 Fridays” with a festive press conference at about 10 a.m. Friday in which 15 numbers were randomly drawn from a gravity pick machine. Those figures represented the lucky winners chosen and although their names were not released, the counties where those individuals live were announced.

The first 15 Californians to win $50,000 as part of California's "Vax for the Win" incentive program have been selected -- and three San Diego County residents were among them.

Newsom explained the selection process and said numbers, called unique indicators, that have no sensitive, identifiable information on a person’s name or HIPAA-related information were selected.

“These unique indicators allow the Department of Public Heath to send those unique indicators to the lottery, and then they’re able to translate to the numbers and the balls that you see behind me," the governor said.

From the 21.5 million eligible Californians, the unique indicators were cut down to 200 and then to 35 to randomly choose Friday's winners. Newsom said that if any of the first 15 numbers selected are not eligible to receive the prize, then the backup numbers will be chosen.

“The remaining 35 will be back up if the first 15 are not eligible, based upon a number of criteria including being a member of the governor’s office, a staff member at the lottery, being incarcerated, working for the lottery more broadly, friends, families…HHS is not eligible, members of the Department of Public Health are not eligible as well, but everyone else is," Newsom said.

California's new vaccine incentive program will randomly award 15 residents $50,000 on Friday. NBC 7's Audra Stafford has more.

The winners were announced as follows:

  • 18 – Mendocino
  • 25 – Los Angeles
  • 43 – Santa Clara
  • 3 – Alameda
  • 48 – San Diego
  • 17 – Los Angeles
  • 16 – San Francisco
  • 41 – Orange
  • 1 – Santa Clara
  • 37 – Los Angeles
  • 12 – San Diego
  • 39 – San Luis Obispo
  • 45 – San Diego
  • 6 – San Francisco
  • 40 – Santa Clara
Fifteen Californians were randomly picked on June 4, 2021, to win $50,000 each, and three of them were San Diegans.

The winners can expect to receive a phone call notifying them of their luck in the coming days, the governor said. A spokesperson for the Vaccination Taskforce said those who get a call to make sure they verify who is calling them before they give out any personal information as some may take advantage and scam people. The Department of Public Health already has your name, date of birth, and phone number.

The winners also have the right to refuse the prize if they wish.

Winners won't be announced Friday and anyone selected for the $50,000 cash can remain anonymous if they'd like to.

Announced by Newsom last week, this is how California’s Vax for the Win works:

  • 15 winners – Californians who have gotten at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine – will be selected on June 4 and 15 more winners on June 11 to receive a $50,000 prize each
  • On June 15 – also known as California’s target date for the state’s full reopening – the state will select 10 vaccinated Californians to win grand prizes of $1.5 million each
  • Californians age 12 and older who have gotten at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine are eligible to win; if someone under 18 years old is chosen, the prize money will be put into a savings account that they can access when they’re 18
  • Winners will be identified by an anonymous number and the county in which they live; the state plans to reach out to winners to request their approval to share their information publicly, and they can choose to remain anonymous if they wish
  • $100 Million in Incentive Cards for Newly-Vaccinated Californians: effective May 27, the state said it would give $50,pre-paid “incentive cards” for the next 2 million Californians to get their COVID-19 vaccine; this card can be spent online or in-store wherever major debit card are accepted or it can be paid out via a $50 grocery gift card for Kroger or Albertsons stores (while supplies last).

You can read the official rules for the Vax for the Win program here.

Newsom said the prize program is meant to ramp up vaccinations in California ahead of the state’s big June 15 reopening. Californians who have already gotten vaccinated are automatically entered to win the cash prizes, the state said. There is no need to enter.

Dollars for doses? NBC 7's Audra Stafford shares details on California's new plan to offer incentives -- including cash prizes -- just for getting your coronavirus vaccine.

The state’s vaccination progress data can be seen here.

As of June 3, the California Department of Public Health reported 17,528,183 Californians, or 51.6%, were fully vaccinated. Another 4,334,287 Californians, or 12.8%, had gotten at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

In San Diego County, as of June 3, public health officials reported 1,992,035 San Diego residents had gotten at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine. A total of 1,562,129 San Diego residents had been fully vaccinated. You can check daily vaccination numbers in San Diego County here.

NBC 7's Artie Ojeda spoke to a doctor, and to San Diegans about California's new vaccine incentive.
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