“If any of our 12-to-17-year-olds or their parents needed another good reason, then now they can get vaccinated for a chance to win a $50,000 college scholarship,” Hogan said at a news conference at the University of Maryland’s College Park campus Wednesday.
As vaccine demand drops and the region continues to grapple with pockets of low vaccination rates, local officials have been trying to entice people who are reluctant to get vaccinated with gift cards and lotteries for cars and cash.
Hogan said he knows that there are people who flatly oppose the coronavirus vaccines and are harder to convince. Promotions such as this one, he said, are largely created for those who are hesitant or may have been putting off getting vaccinated.
“I think there are more of the folks who may need just a little more incentive to go out and do it, and we’re hoping that this opportunity of a college scholarship and us getting out talking about the importance of it will help encourage more young people to do so,” he said.
The scholarship lottery is the latest promotion Hogan has announced in the past two months to encourage vaccinations.
Teenagers, who became eligible to receive inoculations this spring, are the state’s latest targets. State Health Secretary Dennis R. Schrader said more than half of the state’s 12-to-17-year-olds have been vaccinated so far.
“Promotions like this are just one more way that we are reinforcing the importance of getting every single Marylander that we can vaccinated against covid-19, especially our young people,” Hogan said.
To qualify for the program, which will be funded by federal coronavirus relief funds, the teenagers must live in Maryland and have gotten vaccinated in the state. Like Maryland’s previous vaccination lottery, a vaccinated young person is eligible to win a scholarship even if that person got vaccinated before the promotion’s launch.
Under the program, money will be deposited into state-regulated college savings plans. A four-year Maryland prepaid college trust account will be funded for winners between the ages of 12 and 14. For winners between the ages of 15 and 17, a college investment plan contribution will be made.
Hogan isn’t the first governor to offer a college education to encourage vaccinations.
In May, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine (R) offered five full-ride public college scholarships to teens who got vaccinated. The drawings, which were available to those 12 to 17 years old, covered tuition, room and board, and books.
New York selected 50 vaccinated teenagers to receive full-ride scholarships to one of its state or city public universities.
On Tuesday, Maryland released data that shows that all of the coronavirus deaths in Maryland in June were of unvaccinated people, statistics that highlight the effectiveness of the vaccines.
The data also showed that people who have not gotten vaccinated made up virtually all of new cases and new covid-19 hospitalizations last month.
State officials also have expressed concern over the more contagious delta variant. Jinlene Chan, Maryland’s deputy health secretary, said the state has detected only 64 cases of the delta variant, largely because of its high vaccination rate. More than 73 percent of Marylanders 12 and older have received at least one vaccine dose.
“If you haven’t gotten the vaccine, the virus and the variants are a dangerous threat to you,” Hogan said.