Maryland officials are turning to another financial incentive to try to further boost COVID-19 vaccination rates in the state.
Starting Monday, state residents ages 12 to 17 who are vaccinated or get inoculated against COVID-19 will have a chance to win a $50,000 college scholarship, Gov. Larry Hogan announced Wednesday during a briefing at the University of Maryland’s flagship campus at College Park.
There will be 20 drawings through Labor Day using a random number generator to select winners for a total of $1 million in scholarship prizes.
Vaccinated residents 12 to 17 years old will automatically be entered to win. Winners will receive either a Maryland 529 prepaid college trust contract, which locks in today’s tuition rates for the future, or a Maryland 529 college investment plan, Mr. Hogan said.
“All you have to do is go out and get your shot in order to have a shot at winning a scholarship to the college of your choice,” the Republican governor said. “These vaccines are extremely effective, but those who are unvaccinated do remain at risk, especially with new highly transmissible variants including the delta variant which is currently circulating.”
The scholarship prizes are for public colleges in Maryland; however, the winners can transfer the scholarships for private institutions or universities outside of the state.
Funding for the scholarship prizes comes from the American Rescue Plan.
The announcement of the scholarship awards follows the state’s $2 million lottery prize for vaccinated adult residents. Maryland officials gave away $40,000 cash prizes for 40 days until July 4, when they conducted a final drawing for a $400,000 grand prize.
As of Wednesday, just over 75% of Maryland residents ages 18 and up were at least partially vaccinated. The state has confirmed more than 462,700 COVID-19 cases and more than 9,500 deaths. The test positivity rate for Maryland was 0.73%.
According to Mr. Hogan, unvaccinated people made up 95% of all new COVID-19 cases reported last month, 100% of all deaths and 93% of hospitalizations.