Arkansans who get immunized can receive a lottery ticket or gift certificate for hunting and fishing licenses.
A week after offering a $100 bonus to certain state employees who get their COVID-19 vaccine, Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced two new incentives for the public. Arkansans who get immunized can use their vaccination card to redeem a scratch-off ticket from the Arkansas Scholarship Lottery or a gift certificate from the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission.
The lottery tickets and gift certificates will be distributed at Local Health Units and special events across the state. Arkansans can redeem these incentives beginning June 1.
The Arkansas Department of Health is using $2 million to purchase 50,000 lottery tickets and 50,000 gift certificates. The ADH funding is specifically designated for vaccine distribution and it has been approved to be used for incentives, Hutchinson said during his weekly press briefing yesterday.
“If it actually encourages people and we increase the number that’s getting the vaccine, then we can increase that funding and put more resources into it,” Hutchinson said.
The $20 scratch-off tickets are part of the $1 Million Spectacular game by the Arkansas Scholarship Lottery. There are two $1 million prizes left in the game and more than $19 million in total cash prizes.
“This is one of our most popular games,” Arkansas Scholarship Lottery director Eric Hagler said. “We felt like to incentivize individuals to participate in the program you have to give some value and this was premium value.”
If Arkansans don’t have a winning ticket, they can enter their ticket number at www.myarkansaslottery.com for a second chance to win $1 million. Only Arkansans 18 and older are eligible to participate in the lottery.
Vaccinated individuals who chose the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission incentive will receive two gift certificates each worth $10.50 that can be redeemed for a fishing license and a small game hunting license. The gift certificates can be redeemed at any license dealer or online.
“As we moved through the pandemic we saw a big influx of people go outside and spend that time in our natural resources around the state and I think this is a fitting incentive to keep people out there,” AGFC director Pat Fitts said.
Arkansans can enjoy the outdoors and get vaccinated at the same time Saturday at three state parks that are hosting vaccination clinics. The clinics are scheduled for 9 a.m. to noon at Mississippi River State Park, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Petit Jean State Park and from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at DeGray Lake Resort State Park. Those who receive the COVID-19 vaccine at one of these three vaccine clinics will be entered in a drawing for two nights of lodging at any Arkansas state park.
The new incentives come as the state lags behind the country as a whole in vaccinations. As of yesterday, 50 percent of adults in Arkansas had received at least one COVID-19 vaccine, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Nearly 62 percent of adults in the U.S. have received at least one dose of the vaccine.
The Pfizer vaccine was approved for children as young as 12 earlier this month. As of yesterday, 6.4 percent of Arkansans 12 to 15 years old had been vaccinated and that number is increasing progressively, Health Secretary Dr. José Romero said.
“We’re making headway and hope to continue to expand that significantly now with these incentives that are going to be in place,” Romero said.
Officials are emphasizing the importance of vaccinations as the state experienced a 36 percent increase in COVID-19 variants during the last week. More than a third of those new cases involve the U.K. variant. The danger with these variants, Romero said, is they are more transmissible and can result in higher morbidity and mortality.
“We’re starting to see some of the Brazilian variants here in the state, which are difficult to treat with our monoclonal antibodies,” he said. “Really the only way to prevent this — as the governor has said and as we have said over and over again — you need to get vaccinated. That’s how we’re going to stop this pandemic here in the state.”
For the latest COVID-19 numbers in the state, as well as information about vaccination opportunities in your community, visit the Arkansas Department of Health’s website.