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Cox supports Utah using cash incentives to entice Utah residents to get vaccinated



UTAH — Utah may get a vaccine incentive program that could resemble the Ohio lottery system that is awarding five vaccinated people $1 million each.

In his weekly COVID-19 press conference Utah Gov. Spencer Cox said lots of ideas have been talked about to offer incentives to residents of the state to get a vaccine. He specifically mentioned the Ohio lottery effort and said the cash-award option had been discussed for Utah. Cox said:

This is something I am very interested in. We are working with the Legislature to come up with new and innovative ideas. I believe this is one of those ideas, it is something I support.

He was also clear that offering cash for randomly chosen residents who are vaccinated is not the same as a lottery, knowing that gambling and the lottery are both illegal and looked down upon in Utah.

“I want to be very clear that this is not that. People aren’t paying into it, it’s not a lottery,” Cox said. “As I have often said lotteries are a tax on people who are bad at math. That is not this.”

He said some states are giving away fishing licenses for those who get vaccinated, some places are offering free beer or shots and he said he appreciated the private sector businesses who are supporting vaccines with free items like doughnuts. He also welcomed anyone sending their incentive ideas.

“If you have other ideas, please send them our way,” he said.

He also made it clear that those who have been seeking a way out of the pandemic have the solution in vaccines.

This is the miracle that we prayed for, this is what we hoped for, this is the thing, this is it. This is how we get out of the pandemic forever.

Health care workers at the University of Utah were among the very first to get the COVID-19 vaccine in Utah (Photo: KUTV)

The governor made it clear he is in favor of the cash incentive idea, though the state Legislature would need to approve funding for it and he offered no details on what it might look like for the state. Cox said:

We are having out legal teams look at it and we will be meeting with the Legislature to get their buy-in.

Cox said people already vaccinated will also be eligible for any possible prizes and he hoped people would get vaccinated for the right reasons and pleaded with state residents to get vaccinated.

They will do it because it protects them, it protects their family, it protects their neighbors, it protects our economy; it’s safe and it’s the thing that we have been waiting for. So please, plesae, plesae don’t wait.

Despite the hope for good-faith efforts, it seems certain incentives will be offered. Cox also said he hoped for vaccine rates as high as 70%, 80%, or 90%, though the state will never require vaccines.

“There is no amount of money that is too much to help us get an extra 5% or 10% of people vaccinated when you look at the damage that has happened to our economy, to our nation because of this pandemic.”