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Alberta is offering $3M in lottery winnings to encourage people to get their COVID-19 vaccine

jason kenney

Alberta is offering $3 million in cash to encourage more people to get a COVID-19 vaccine. 

Premier Jason Kenney announced Saturday the launch of the “Open for Summer” vaccine lottery. Three $1-million prizes will be available for Albertans aged 18 and over who have had at least one dose.

Kenney credited Albertans who have already gotten at least their first dose of vaccine for helping the province overcome the spring spike of COVID-19. But demand for the vaccine has waned, Kenney said in a video posted to Twitter that was filmed at an empty rapid-flow vaccine clinic in Edmonton Expo Center.

“Many places around the world have launched similar lotteries like this because we need to just nudge those who haven’t gotten around to getting their vaccines yet,” Kenney said.

The lottery will “pay for itself” if more people are vaccinated, Kenney said, citing billions of dollars spent on health-care and support due to the pandemic over the past 16 months. 

The first draw for the lottery will take place on the day Alberta hits Stage 3 of its reopening plan, Kenney said. 

On Thursday, the province stepped closer to a restriction-free summer when it moved into Stage 2 of its reopening plan.

Stage 3 would begin two weeks after 70 per cent of eligible Albertans have had at least one dose of vaccine.

Eligibility for lottery unclear

It’s not clear what the exact rules of the lottery will be.

In the video, the premier said Albertans could enter if they receive at least their first dose of vaccine within a week of 70 per cent of eligible Albertans getting their first dose. 

However, a news release sent by the province said all Alberta residents over the age of 18 who have received at least one dose of vaccine can register.

Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, said on Thursday that if there is a choice to offer a lottery, anyone who has their first dose can enter, not only people who get their first dose after the lottery is announced. 

CBC News reached out for comment on the lottery Saturday. The premier’s office said details on how to register will be announced on Monday. 

Health Minister Tyler Shandro tweeted Sunday that the province would adopt an opt-in approach to comply with privacy legislation. Limited personal information will be collected and health information will only be used to verify winner eligibility, he said.

Alberta is not the first jurisdiction to unveil incentives to make residents roll up their sleeves for a vaccine shot. Earlier this week, Manitoba announced it would be holding two lottery draws this summer with $100,000 prizes and $25,000 youth scholarships.

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