Arkansans considering a COVID-19 vaccine will now have new incentives for getting the shots.
Gov. Asa Hutchinson revealed that that the state of Arkansas will be introducing two vaccine incentive options starting Tuesday, June 1. Individuals who get vaccinated starting today (Tuesday, May 25) will have the option of receiving a $20 Arkansas Scholarship Lottery scratch-off ticket or gift certificates from the Arkansas Game & Fish Commission.
Hutchinson previously introduced a vaccine incentive for state employees on Thursday, May 20. Executive branch state agency employees will receive a $100 bonus for getting at least one COVID-19 shot.
According to Hutchinson, he received calls to expand this incentive initiative. “Last week, as I announced the incentive for state employees to get vaccinated with the bonus that’s available to them. People asked me, ‘Well, how about the general public? You’ve got to do something to encourage the general public to get vaccinated.’ I’ve asked our Health Department team to combine with our Department of Finance to see what we could do to give something to the general public to incentivize them, encourage them and also to make it some fun as they go about getting the vaccine and we increase these numbers,” he said.
The first incentive option will be a $20 Arkansas Scholarship Lottery scratch-off ticket. “This allows you to scratch-off, get an immediate decision as to whether you’ve won an award or not,” Hutchinson said.
Arkansas Scholarship Lottery director Eric Hagler called the $1 Million Spectacular Ticket, a “premium value” for those interested in getting a vaccine, calling the $20 ticket one of the lottery’s most popular games of chance. “This is an important ticket for those that are interested in getting their vaccines because what this offers you is an immediate chance to win a $1 million cash prize,” he said.
Hagler said that there are two remaining $1 million prizes with $19 million in cash prizes total. Individuals, according to Hagler, will have a one in three chance of winning a prize through this incentive option with a second opportunity to win the $1 million prize if they enter their lottery ticket number at the Arkansas Scholarship Lottery’s website.
The second incentive option is for gift certificates from the Arkansas Game & Fish Commission. AGFC director Pat Fitts said that individuals who choose this option will receive two $10.50 gift certificates, which can be redeemed for a fishing license and a small game hunting license.
“It’s kind of fitting as we moved through the pandemic that 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,” Fitts said.
In total, the Arkansas Department of Health will be purchasing 50,000 lottery tickets and 50,000 AGFC gift cards for this incentive program. Hutchinson told reporters that the program would cost $2 million, which would be drawn from Department of Health funding designated for vaccine distribution.
Should the incentive program prove popular, there could be a renewal, according to Hutchinson. “If it is successful, if it actually encourages people, and we increase the number getting the vaccine, then we can increase that funding and put more resources into it,” He said.
“Previously, you’d get a vaccine and you knew you were doing something good for your health and your state, and that was a reward. Now, when you get a vaccine, you’re doing something good for yourself and your health, but also you’re going to be helping the Arkansas Scholarship Lottery and you’ll be helping also the Arkansas Game and Fish…”