Maryland launches $1 million COVID-19 vaccination scholarship program


(NEW YORK) — Maryland Gov. Hogan announced earlier this month, the launch of the $1 million VaxU scholarship program. The effort is to incentivize those eligible, kids between 12-17 to get vaccinated against COVID-19, the governor said. Anyone between those ages who was vaccinated in the state is automatically entered to win.

Winners will receive a $50,000 scholarship for any public, in-state institution of higher education. As of July 12, the state began randomly selecting two winners and will continue with weekly drawings through Labor Day, when they will then pick four winners.

“The virus, and its variants are a dangerous threat to you,” Hogan said. “Getting vaccinated is the only way to protect yourself and to continue on our recovery.”

“The winners will receive a Maryland 529 prepaid college trust contract, which locks in today’s tuition rates for the future, or a Maryland 529 College invest plan,” said Gov. Hogan. “And the winner, if they decide down the line…. [that they] would like to attend a private institution or school that’s outside of the state of Maryland, they can actually transfer the scholarship to the school of their choice.”

The funding behind these scholarships comes from the American Rescue Plan which distributed more than $360 billion in emergency funding to state and local governments.

“Promotions like these are just one more way that we are reinforcing the importance of getting every single Marylander that we can vaccinate against COVID-19, especially our young people,” said Gov. Hogan. “But those who are unvaccinated do remain at risk, especially with the new highly transmissible variants, including the delta variant which is currently circulating.”

“According to our state health department, 95% of all new COVID cases reported last month were people who have not been vaccinated [and] 93% of all new covid deaths in the month of June were Marylanders who were unvaccinated,” said Gov. Hogan.

The incentive comes as the delta variant spreads rampantly throughout the U.S. and vaccination rates across the nation continue to fall.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Rochelle Walensky told lawmakers Tuesday that the delta variant now makes up 83% of COVID cases, up from 50% at the beginning of this month.

Since vaccinations have become widely avaiable states have used lotteries, college scholarships and other rewards as ways to intice people to get vaccinated.

In May, Joseph Costello was announced the winner of a full-ride scholarship in Ohio’s Vax-a-Million lottery. Costello’s name was randomly drawn from nearly 105,000 entries among vaccinated 12 to 17-year-olds.

That same month, the mayor of Lancaster, California, offered a raffle scholarship that included a grand prize of $10,000 for teens who get the COVID-19 vaccine.

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