The Alaska Chamber of Commerce and the state Department of Health and Social Services have launched a new COVID-19 vaccine incentive program, which includes one of the largest cash prizes Alaska has seen throughout the pandemic.
The new incentive campaign, called “Give AK a Shot,” allows for one newly vaccinated adult resident — 18 and up — to receive $49,000 cash, and one newly vaccinated child resident — 12 to 17 years old — to receive a $49,000 scholarship in an Alaska 529 education savings plan. If the child’s guardian is also vaccinated, they’ll be eligible to win another $10,000 in cash. The campaign will choose a winner each week through the end of October.
The incentive sweepstakes will feature one statewide drawing per week in each the adult and child age group.
Kati Capozzi, the Alaska Chamber president and CEO, said during a press briefing Thursday that more people choosing to vaccinate against COVID-19 will result in an overall healthy and more successful Alaska community.
“The mission of the Alaska Chamber is to promote a healthy business environment,” she said, noting that vaccinations will not only help keep individuals safe, but they will help businesses recover from economic damage the pandemic has imposed.
Capozzi said that as of about 2:15 p.m. on Thursday there had already been more than 3,000 entries in the vaccine lottery.
Heidi Hedberg, the director of public health, said more people need to get vaccinated now so as not to further overwhelm hospitals and medical clinics.
“The situation has become so bad that it is affecting Alaska’s health care system,” she said. “In public health every life is important. Now is the time to get vaccinated.”
While the grant, given to the Alaska Chamber from the federal government CARES Act, is meant to provide financial incentive to the unvaccinated population, there will be two drawings for Alaskans who received the jab before Sept. 2 — one $49,000 cash prize for the adult population and another $49,000 scholarship for a child under 18.
Hedberg said the new incentive is a continuation of previous incentive programs funded by federal grants.
“This is a carry-on to the next phase,” she said. “This is just a new campaign to address those who are not vaccinated yet.”
Hedberg said she’s confident the new incentive program will increase vaccination rates in the state. She said the reason Alaska led the nation early in vaccination rates this year was in part due to the state’s “strong partnership” with tribal health organizations. Now, she said, health officials are targeting the nearly 45% of Alaskans who still aren’t fully vaccinated against the virus.
Eligibility requirements for the incentive sweepstakes include:
Being an Alaska resident 12 or older
Having a record of the first dose of any COVID-19 vaccine administered during the entry period of that week’s drawing
Having received a vaccination in Alaska
To enter the incentive sweepstakes, participants must register with vaccine and personal information — including name, vaccination date and vaccination location — at giveakashot.com
Participants are only eligible for the incentive prizes during the week in which they are vaccinated.
The first winners will be announced on Sept. 16 for the week of Sept. 2-11. Drawings will continue once a week, with winners announced on Thursdays, through Nov. 4.
As of Thursday, 55% of Alaskans 12 and older were fully vaccinated against the virus, and another 61% had received at least one dose. In the Kenai Peninsula Borough, which has consistently reported low vaccination numbers compared to other regions across Alaska, 47% of residents 12 and older were fully vaccinated, with another 51% partially inoculated.
For more information and to enter the vaccine incentive drawing, visit giveakashot.com.
Getting a COVID vaccine
COVID-19 vaccines do not cost money.
Many different organizations on the central peninsula, including pharmacies in Walmart, Walgreens and the Kenai Fire Department offer vaccines. They are also available for both residents and visitors at airports in Anchorage, Juneau and Fairbanks.
Additionally, Soldotna Professional Pharmacy hosts a walk-in clinic in its strip mall storefront at the “Y” intersection of the Sterling and Kenai Spur highways Monday through Friday from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Vaccination appointments can also be scheduled through the online portal PrepMod, which can be accessed at myhealth.alaska.gov.
A map of vaccine providers can be found on DHSS’ COVID-19 vaccine website at covidvax.alaska.gov.
People who would like assistance with scheduling a vaccination appointment can call the Kenai Peninsula Borough Office of Emergency Management call center. The center operates Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to noon. The central peninsula call center can be reached at 907-262-4636. The Homer call center can be reached at 907-235-4636. The Seward call center can be reached at 907-224-4636.
Reach reporter Camille Botello at firstname.lastname@example.org.