Active duty, veterans to have separate vaccination incentive

— Created June 23, 2021 by Kathy Reed

By Kathy Reed

Active duty military personnel, staff, veterans and their families who have received or begun their COVID-19 vaccinations through the Department of Defense, the Veteran’s Administration or the National Guard will now have their own incentive program through the Washington State Lottery.

Gov. Jay Inslee announced “A Heroes Thanks” at a press conference last week. The drawings will begin July 20 and will consist of a $100,000 cash prize, Amazon and state parks gift cards the first two weeks and a grand prize drawing of $250,000 the third week.

The announcement of this incentive program comes two weeks after the start of the “Shot of a Lifetime” program. Because of difficulty sharing data with the federal government, names of veterans, military members and staff and their families are not included in those drawings. However, the VA has now provided recipient information to state lottery officials and they should be automatically entered in the drawings. Those who received their vaccination(s) through the DOD will be able to register for the drawings, although details on that have yet to be released. (Check to find out more.)

“I am happy to say we have found a way to honor our active duty military and veterans in this regard,” Inslee said last week. “Clearly, these are some of our most treasured Washingtonians and I’m glad to be able to provide this incentive program for them. We are so grateful for these service members, veterans, their families and those who work for the military for their service to our country.”

While the cash prizes for A Heroes Thanks are less than those of the Shot of a Lifetime incentives, the governor said the program has a guaranteed positive outcome.

“We know heroes are going to win, and I feel good about that,” Inslee said. “It’s well worth it for a relatively small investment.”

The goal of both incentive programs is simple – get people vaccinated against COVID-19. The state will reopen fully June 30 – even sooner if the state hits its goal of 70 percent of the population ages 16 and older initiating or completing their vaccine.

Vaccination rates had declined steeply in the weeks before the Shot of a Lifetime incentive was announced, by as much as 50 percent each week.

“We have arrested that decline largely,” Inslee said. “I’m glad it seems to be encouraging people to think about getting vaccinated.”

As of last Thursday, the state’s vaccination percentage stood at 67.8. Inslee and Department of Health officials say they believe they can achieve 70 percent before June 30, which would mean COVID restrictions would be lifted earlier.

“There is a distinct possibility we can hit that 70 percent mark before June 30,” said Inslee. “That’s one of the reasons I’m excited about people getting vaccinated in the next few days. The numbers are growing.”

“Given where we are now and how far we need to go, I think we can make the goal before June 30,” said Lacy Fehrenbach, deputy secretary for COVID response. “If we do or do not, and when we do, depends entirely on the people of Washington. We could hit it early [this] week if enough people step forward and get vaccinated. There is supply to do it, the logistics to do it and we would love to see it happen.

“It could also go down to the wire,” she continued.  “It really depends on all of us, just like everything else we have done throughout this pandemic.”

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