Massachusetts on Thursday announced the first two winners of its VaxMillions giveaway as the state attempts to drive up its vaccination rate as COVID cases rise.
Gov. Charlie Baker announced in a press conference that Darrell Washington, of Weymouth, a case worker for Blue Cross Blue Shield, had won $1 million in the sweepstakes. Daniela Maldonado, a student from Chelsea, won a $300,000 scholarship.
Washington, who was vaccinated in April, said he was motivated to get the shot because he has relatives with comorbidities, and urged those not vaccinated yet to do the same.
"I just couldn't imagine me being a host for the virus and then getting them sick and critically ill, and possibly passing away. I just couldn't do that, so whether there's a booster, doesn't matter, I will take it," he said.
Maldonado, vaccinated in May, said the prize would help her pursue her higher education goals.
Leaving the event, Baker said he would have more to say later Thursday about the fiscal 2021 spending bill lawmakers sent him last week, a $261.6 supplemental budget that would also revive and extend mail-in and in-person early voting through Dec. 15 and establish a new board of directors to oversee the MBTA. He said he was still looking at the CDC's latest mask guidance.
Thursday's winners were chosen from the first drawing, which happened Monday.
Nearly two million adults have signed up for a chance to win the $1 million prize and around 135,000 teenagers, ages 12 to 17, registered for the $300,000 college scholarship grants as of Friday afternoon, per Gov. Charlie Baker's office.
Baker said Thursday that since the sweepstakes was announced, some 200,000 Massachusetts residents have reviewed their first shot and 330,000 have become fully vaccinated.
"This day can happen again, and with the delta variant creeping around our state, now is as good a time as any to make sure that you get vaccinated," Treasurer Deborah Goldberg said.
To be eligible for the drawings, participants must have been fully vaccinated against the coronavirus and have registered by July 22. Anyone who hasn't yet signed up can do so to be eligible for the remaining drawings. See the VaxMillions deadlines here.
Still want to get in on the action? Fully vaccinated residents can enter the drawing at VaxMillionsGiveaway.com. For residents who do not have internet access or need assistance, there is a call center available to assist with registration. You can reach the call center by calling 211 during the following hours:
- Monday to Thursday from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.
- Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
- Saturday and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Live call center workers will be available in English and Spanish, and an additional 100 languages will be available through translators.