Cash? How about a joint? They could be yours for a COVID shot

Inslee tries to get more people to get their shots

As the number of Washingtonians seeking a COVID-19 vaccine continues to lag, Gov. Jay Inslee has come to the conclusion — as have other state governors around the nation — that citizens might be enticed to get their shots with a financial lollipop.

For others, the enticement might be a joint. More on that later.

State health reports indicate that 63% of those 16 and older have received their vaccinations so far, still short of the 70% the state says it needs to fully reopen. On June 30, Washington plans to drop COVID restrictions regardless of the percentage who people who have gotten their immunization shots.

Last week, the governor announced the “Shot of a Lifetime” lottery incentive that dangles more than $2 million in prizes to Washingtonians who have received at least their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

Washington’s Lottery, the state agency that runs the lottery program, said it planned to conduct one drawing for $250,000 each week for four weeks in order to increase the number of fully vaccinated individuals in the state. The first drawing was conducted on June 8. At the end of the four-week drawing period, an additional drawing for $1 million will take place on July 13. Those who have gotten their required shots don’t need to enter the contest. The agency said it will automatically enter names for the drawing from the state Department of Health’s database of those who have gotten their vaccine shots.

While money is being dangled to residents as a reward for getting their shots, there are other incentives being offered, including higher education tuition and expense assistance, to students and families. And some regional companies, airlines and sporting teams are providing their own free merch: sports tickets and gear, gift cards, airline tickets, game systems and smart speakers as part of the lottery bounty. In addition, the Department of Commerce is partnering with businesses, retailers and local chambers of commerce to purchase $1 million worth of gift cards for local stores.

The state also said it will distribute nearly $1 million to its four-year public universities and two-year community colleges and technical institutes so they can offer their own drawings to vaccinated students for free tuition and expenses. On top of that, a year’s worth of college tuition credits to children between the ages of 12 and 17 will be given to 30 winners. The credits will be distributed to families through the Guaranteed Education Tuition program.

‘Joints for Jabs’

And in a demonstration of how times have changed, the state Liquor and Cannabis Board announced Monday that it will allow participating cannabis retailers to, at least temporarily, advertise “Joints for Jabs” promotions to get vaccinations into the arms of customers.

The board said in a news release that it has received multiple requests from cannabis retail licensees to support state vaccination efforts by staging product promotions. According to the board, participating retailers may provide one pre-roll joint to a customer associated with an active vaccine clinic event at the retailer’s location.

The cannabis promotion is effective through Monday, July 12.

In Kitsap County, Kitsap Transit is taking part in the vaccination drive. The transit agency said it will begin giving out “vaccination vouchers” later this month to anyone who has gotten their shots through a participating provider in Kitsap County. The vouchers can be redeemed for a combination bus/ferry pass good for use on all Kitsap Transit services in any month from June 2021 through May 2022.

The vaccination pass can be used on all of Kitsap Transit’s services: routed, worker/driver, Dial-A-Ride, ACCESS, vanpool, local foot ferry and fast ferry. The pass is to be loaded onto an ORCA card. Existing ORCA cardholders can ask to have the pass loaded to their card for the month in which they plan to use it, officials said. Three healthcare agencies in the county — Kaiser Permanente, Kitsap Public Health District and Peninsula Community Health Services — are participating in the campaign.

To book a vaccine appointment and find vaccination sites, visit kitsaptransit.com/covid-19.

As of May 30, approximately 52.5% of Kitsap County residents ages 12 and older had started the process of getting fully vaccinated, the transit agency said in a news release.

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