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Massachusetts vaccine lottery has attracted less than half of those eligible so far, officials say

Vaccinated Massachusetts residents are eligible for prizes through the VaxMillions lottery.
Vaccinated Massachusetts residents are eligible for prizes through the VaxMillions lottery.mass.gov

The state’s COVID-19 vaccine lottery, which offers adults who have gotten their shots a chance to win $1 million and youths a chance to win $300,000 scholarship grants, has attracted less than half of those who are eligible, according to the latest state figures.

With a little more than a week before the deadline to enter the first drawing in the VaxMillions Giveaway, 1,802,840 people 18 and over and 122,207 12- to 17-year-olds had signed up, bringing the total number of entries to 1,925,047, the governor’s office said Tuesday.

Nearly 4.3 million people have been fully vaccinated, according to the state public health department.

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Only people who are fully vaccinated are eligible. People are considered fully vaccinated once they have received two shots of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine or the single-dose Johnson & Johnson immunization.

A drawing for one cash prize and one scholarship grant will be held weekly for five weeks into late August. The deadline to enter the first drawing is July 22. The drawing will be held July 26. The winner will be announced July 29.

People can continue to sign up for drawings until Aug. 19. But it’s better to sign up earlier. That’s because entries submitted for earlier drawings will qualify for all later drawings. So a person who enters the first drawing will have five chances to win, while a person who enters by the second drawing will have four chances, and so on.

Residents can enroll in the lottery at VaxMillionsGiveaway.com. Those needing assistance can call 211.

The state is a national leader in vaccinations. Governor Charlie Baker announced the lottery in mid-June, hoping to spur even more people to step up. The sweepstakes offers better odds of winning $1 million than popular state lottery games. The odds of winning the $300,000 scholarship grants are even better.

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The introduction of vaccine lotteries was hailed by some officials, including President Joe Biden who called them “creative” and Andy Slavitt, then a top Biden adviser, who said that Ohio had “unlocked a secret” when it announced its version. Other experts have argued that there are better ways to encourage people to get vaccinated.



Martin Finucane can be reached at martin.finucane@globe.com.