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California announces $116.5 million in vaccine incentives as demand dips

California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) in Los Angeles on Thursday. (Damian Dovarganes/AP)
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California on Thursday became the latest state to announce huge cash prizes to incentivize vaccination against the coronavirus, offering $116.5 million in giveaways — many smaller payments as well as a final drawing for 10 winners of $1.5 million each.

As rates of vaccination slow, more state and local leaders are getting creative to boost an urgent effort to protect Americans from covid-19 and get communities back to normal. Some incentives are more modest: free fries, bouquets or alcohol. (Louisiana, for instance, recently debuted “shots for shots.”) But Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine (R) upped the ante this month when he announced a multimillion-dollar lottery. Soon, other states followed suit.

Some have questioned the strategy’s cost-effectiveness, and one reporter asked Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) at a Thursday news conference whether he ever thought California would have to spend so much to get people to get free vaccinations against a deadly disease.

“The cost of not getting vaccinated is exponentially, incalculably higher,” Newsom said.

Here are some significant developments:

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