Any vaccinated Illinoisan will be automatically entered into a lottery for $10 million in prizes without having to take any extra steps to enter.
Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced the “all in for the win” vaccine lottery at an event at Access Community Health Network, 5139 S. Ashland Ave., noting it would award $7 million in cash prizes for adults 18 years of age and older, as well as $3 million in scholarship awards for Illinoisans ages 12 to 17.
The first drawing will be conducted by the Illinois Lottery on July 8 and drawings will continue into August. Prizes will include cash payments from $100,000 to $1 million. Scholarships would be in the form of Bright Start 529 savings plans worth $150,000 each.
The money is allocated from federal American Rescue Plan funding, of which the state received more than $8 billion.
Drawings will be conducted statewide and individually in the state’s Restore Illinois regions that coincided with mitigation efforts throughout the pandemic. In the final drawing August 26, the winners of the final two of three $1 million prizes will be chosen from a statewide pool.
To receive a vaccine, Illinoisans were required to give their information to the medical professional who administered the vaccine, so Pritzker said that is how the names will be chosen for the drawings. Anyone having received at least their first dose by July 1 would be eligible for prizes in the first drawing.
Those who win would be contacted by the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH), who will seek permission to share the winner’s name with the Illinois Lottery. IDPH will not share information without a recipient’s consent, according to a news release.
More information is available at allin.illinois.gov.
Pritzker made that announcement as the state’s positivity rate continued to plummet. More than 70% of Illinois adults have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That number was 67% for Illinoisans 12 and older and 89% for those 65 and older, per the IDPH.
For full vaccination, the number as of Thursday was 50% for 12 and older, 53% for 18 and older, and 73% for 65 and older.
Pritzker and IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said they were hopeful that the lottery would increase vaccine participation to continue to drive positivity rates and hospitalizations downward. They noted vaccinations remain free for Illinoisans at a variety of locations, such as mass vaccination sites, local health departments, chain and small pharmacies, doctors’ offices and Federally Qualified Health Centers.
“While our vaccination numbers in Illinois are good, we can't stop there. We still need more people, as many people as possible, and there is a pool of 3 million eligible people who are not yet vaccinated. We still need you to step up and get vaccinated,” Ezike said.
Ezike and Pritzker also noted that more dangerous variants of the virus are gaining steam, and as long as there are unvaccinated individuals in whom the virus can find a home, it could continue to become more dangerous as a variant.
According to the IDPH website, the state has identified 64 cases of the delta variant first found in India. That strain is a “variant of concern,” according to federal health officials, and could be more transmissible and cause more severe symptoms for those who are unvaccinated.
“We have to stop this virus from circulating before it mutates to the point that we get a variant that threatens the vaccine immunity that the 70% of us … are already pursuing. And the way to stop that is through vaccination,” Ezike said.
Donna Thompson, CEO of ACCESS Community Health Network, noted the inequities the virus has laid bare, especially in the predominantly Black and Brown communities on the South and West sides.
“We have seen up close the devastating effects that the virus has had on our communities and how health disparities and inequities have also compounded the risk for our patients and local residents,” she said.
“We are also seeing disturbing divides across our communities – those that are vaccinated, and have the freedom to go and return to a normal life, and then those that are unvaccinated, and are restricted due to their status, and often cases, presenting with serious cases of COVID at our health centers, or worse, at local emergency departments.”
For the first time since the beginning of the pandemic, case positivity rates in the four lakefront mid-South Side ZIP codes were below 2%. Vaccination rates in the area remains significantly lower than the statewide average and in comparison to several North Side ZIP codes that lead the city, however.
- In 60653, covering North Kenwood and Oakland, there were two confirmed cases of COVID-19, compared to six the week before, and one deaths, up from none the week before. There was a 0.5% positivity rate out of 740 tests performed. The number of tests performed rose 8%. Out of the entire population, 40% have received a first dose of vaccine (39.2% last week), and 34.5% is fully vaccinated (33.5% last week).
- In 60615, covering northern Hyde Park, southern Kenwood and northern Washington Park, there were seven confirmed cases, down from 16 the week before, and no deaths, the same as the week before. There was a 0.8% positivity rate out of 1,001 tests. The number of tests performed rose 4%. Out of the entire population, 56.9% have received a first dose of vaccine (56.1% last week), and 51.2% are fully vaccinated (49.9% last week).
- In 60637, covering southern Hyde Park, southern Washington Park and Woodlawn, there were nine confirmed cases, down from 11 the week before, and no deaths, the same as the week before. There was a 0.7% positivity rate out of 1,361 tests. The number of tests performed dropped 29%. Out of the entire population, 40.4% have received a first dose of vaccine (39.7% last week), and 35.3% are fully vaccinated (34.2% last week).
- In 60649, South Shore, there were 13 confirmed cases, down from 15 the week before, and no deaths, down from one the week before. There was a 1.3% positivity rate out of 1,276 tests. The number of tests performed dropped 9%. Out of the entire population, 34.5% have received a first dose of vaccine (33.8% last week), and 29.5% are fully vaccinated (28.5% last week).
The city’s figures are accurate as of Friday and change as additional past data comes in.
The city's website for vaccine information is chicago.gov/covidvax. The city's online platform for vaccine scheduling is zocdoc.com/vaccine. City operators are available at 312-746-4835 to handle any questions regarding the vaccine.
The Protect Chicago at Home program, for Chicagoans aged 65 or older and Chicagoans with disabilities or medical conditions that make it hard for them to travel, is available, with appointments also for booking at 312-746-4835.
Howard Brown Health is offering the COVID-19 vaccine to everyone aged 16 and older, with sign-up at 872-269-3600. Katsaros Pharmacy, 1521 E. 53rd St., is offering appointments online at katsarospharmacy.com for the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Friend Health is scheduling vaccine appointments at all three of its South Side locations at friendhealth.as.me for the Moderna vaccine.
UChicago Medicine is also now vaccinating everyone, regardless of patient status. The scheduling number is 1-888-824-0200.
The Cook County government is offering sign-up for vaccines at vaccine.cookcountyil.gov.
Herald staff contributed. Capitol News Illinois is a nonprofit, nonpartisan news service covering state government funded primarily by the Illinois Press Foundation and the Robert R. McCormick Foundation.