$1 Million Colorado Vaccine Drawing Isn’t A Lottery, And You Might Already Be Entered

John Daley/CPR News
Gov. Polis announced on Tuesday, May 25 that Colorado would award $1 million each week beginning June 4 to five COVID-19 vaccine recipients.

Updated June 9 at 12:30 p.m.

Colorado will award $1 million each week to five lucky COVID-19 vaccine recipients, part of a growing number of states trying to reverse declining vaccine interest through giveaways.

Gov. Jared Polis announced the drawing Tuesday after hinting last week that something like this might be coming.

The money will come out of the marketing and promotion budget for the vaccine program, and Polis said he believes it will be a better use of the $5 million.

“We feel it will have a bigger impact on driving vaccination than if we were running TV ads saying to get vaccinated,” Polis said. “And best of all, the benefit goes to five lucky Coloradans who did the right thing and protected themselves.”

Oregon, New York and Maryland have followed Ohio’s lead in setting up drawings like the one Colorado is now planning. In Ohio, the day before their $1 million drawing was announced 13,928 people were vaccinated. The day after, 32,754 lined up for a shot. The daily number of those vaccinated there has stayed elevated, but remained far below the March and April peaks when more than 100,000 per day were seeking vaccines.

Colorado has experienced a similar decline in vaccine interest which Polis is hoping to goose with the drawings.

“We have seen this kind of drawing work in states like Ohio, where they saw a surge in interest,” Polis said. “And we expect that we'll see the same thing here.

“All you have to do to enter is get vaccinated.”

Where is the money coming from?

This will come from the advertising and marketing funds given to the state by the federal government and designed to encourage vaccination against COVID-19.

How many drawings are there? How does it work?

There will be five weekly drawings, on Fridays, starting June 4. Everyone 18 and older who has already been vaccinated, or gets vaccinated at least by the Tuesday before the drawing will be automatically entered.

Are they going to make public the names of the winners?

Yes. The point is to generate interest in vaccines by showing off the people who got vaccinated and then won $1 million. To get the money, you have to agree to the release of your identity — but not any medical records beyond the fact that you got vaccinated.

How will you be contacted if you win?

When you made your appointment to get vaccinated, or when you enroll at a walk-in site, some contact information and demographic information about you is collected. That will be used to contact you if you win the $1 million.

How are you entered? If you've already been vaccinated, are you automatically entered?

If you got the COVID vaccine in the state of Colorado, your vaccine provider should have entered that information into the state's database. However, the state health department on May 27 told us that as many as 11 percent of immunizations statewide have not reached the database. Here's where to check to see if you're records are in there (hint — if you can't find your records, try using a different email address or phone number of yours).

If you've been vaccinated outside the state of Colorado but are a Colorado resident, you must contact CDPHE and provide proof of vaccination — and Colorado residency — to get added.

The state has also launched a hotline to help you check to see if you're vaccine record is in the state's database.

If you were part of a vaccine trial and you got the vaccine, are you entered?

Yes. If you got the vaccine, and your name is in the statewide database, you are entered.

How is the state protecting your privacy?

The Colorado Lottery will assign a random number to your name, and one of those numbers will be drawn each week. Only the person whose number is drawn will be contacted, and will then have a chance to decline the $1 million or agree to take it and have their identity revealed.

Does this mean the state entered people into a lottery against some religious objections?

Polis went to some lengths to point out that this is a drawing, not a lottery, and no one had to pay or put up anything in order to participate. And no one will be forced to take the money.

Can you opt out of the drawing when you get your vaccine? What if I don’t want the money?

No and yes. If you get the vaccine, you are entered for the drawing. If you win the drawing, you can turn it down. 

What are the odds of winning?

Polis estimated about 1 in 500,000 based on the weekly drawing and the number of people who have received at least one dose.

Speaking of that, am I eligible for the drawing if I only received one dose of the two-dose vaccines, or do I have to have both?

One dose is enough to be entered. Getting the second dose will provide you full protection from COVID-19, but it will not get you a second entry.

What if I got vaccinated through my employer — not at a clinic, pharmacy or medical facility?

Your information still should have been entered into the state vaccine database, and you are therefore eligible to win.

What if I haven’t been vaccinated yet? How do I enter?

You have until midnight on the Tuesday of each week to get at least one dose of vaccine in you in order to be eligible for that Friday’s drawing.  

How will the scholarship contest work – is it also for $1 million? Is it only for in-state schools? Public universities?

There are 25, $50,000 scholarship prizes for vaccinated Coloradans ages 12 to 17. Here's more information on that.

If I got vaccinated through the Indian Health Services, am I eligible?

Yes, as long as you are a Colorado resident and were vaccinated in the state. The IHS reports their information through the state database.

What if I was vaccinated at a CVS, Walgreens or another pharmacy?

You are in.

How can I be sure my vaccine provider entered my name into the state database?

Collecting your information and uploading it to the state is a requirement of vaccine providers. Here's where to check and see if your record is entered. If your record is not in there, you might want to try calling the state's hotline at 1-877-268-2926.