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June 07, 2021

With Philly Vax Sweepstakes, city residents have chances to win up $50,000 for getting their COVID-19 shots

There will be three drawings offering vaccinated people opportunities to win cash prizes – the first happens on June 21

Prevention Vaccines
CVS Walgreens COVID-19 Vaccine Bob Self/Florida Times-Union via AP

The Philly Vax Sweepstakes will award cash prizes up to $50,000 to city residents who receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Winners will be selected during three drawings on June 21, July 6 and July 19. For each drawing two Philadelphia residents will win $50,000, four will win $5,000 and six more will win $1,000.

Philadelphia is offering extra incentive for residents to get their COVID-19 vaccinations in the form of chances to win cash prizes up to $50,000.

The city unveiled the Philly Vax Sweepstakes on Monday, which will consist of three drawings on June 21, July 6 and July 19. For each drawing two Philadelphia residents will win $50,000, four will win $5,000 and six more will win $1,000. The total jackpot for this coronavirus vaccination incentive program is $400,000.

To be eligible, a person must have a current Philadelphia address, be older than 18 and have received at least one COVID-19 shot prior to each drawing.

Health department data shows roughly 64.7% of Philadelphia residents have received at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose and 52% of residents are fully vaccinated.

The sweepstakes is designed to particularly encourage people, who live in neighborhoods where vaccination rates are the lowest, to get inoculated by offering those residents better chances to win. For the first drawing on June 21, those residing in the 19126 ZIP code will have increased odds at getting one of the cash prizes – about a 100-times greater chance of winning than people living outside of that ZIP code, city officials said.

People will be entered in the drawings one of three ways: City officials will use a database of Philadelphia residents, automatically entering everyone in the database who meets the eligibility requirements. Because this database could contain errors, duplicate records or be incomplete, officials said there are also other ways to ensure participation.

The first is registering online at phillyvaxsweepstakes.com, which is available 24 hours a day. Residents will need to provide their names, mailing addresses, phone numbers, and email addresses. The registration form is available in English and Spanish.

People can register is by calling (877)-642-5666 between 8 a.m. and 7 p.m. Callers will be prompted to leave messages with their names, mailing addresses and phone numbers.

And residents can register for the vaccination sweepstakes by texting "Phillyvax" to (215) 608-9799.

Using the online form, calling or texting confirms a person's entry in all three drawings, and duplicate entries will only be counted once, officials said. 

Philly Vax Sweepstakes is an effort to increase the number of city residents receiving the COVID-19 vaccine. The city is conducting the drawings in partnership with the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.

Funding for the prizes is provided by the Wharton School; Penn's Behavior Change for Good Initiative; Penn's Center for Health Incentives and Behavioral Economics; and Flu Lab.

Here is how the city will determine which ZIP code's residents will have better chances:

• In each of the three sweepstakes, one ZIP code from the 20 ZIP codes in Philadelphia that have the lowest vaccination rates, as of May 27, will be selected at random.

• Half of the winners of each prize category will be drawn from this selected ZIP code, and the other half will be drawn from Philadelphia at large.

• The selected ZIP code in each drawing will be publicly announced on the city of Philadelphia's website and on the city's social media accounts (Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram) roughly two weeks before the drawing, creating an added incentive for residents in that ZIP code to get vaccinated if they haven't already. The selected ZIP code for the first drawing is 19126, which includes parts of East Oak Lane and West Oak Lane.

• No ZIP code can be a selected ZIP code more than once, meaning there will be three different selected Philadelphia ZIP codes in total.

On Monday, Wharton School professor Katy Milkman explained that the sweepstakes was designed to leverage insights from behavioral science. Participation in the program and its effect on vaccination rates, particularly in ZIP codes with low vaccination rates, will be analyzed compared to surrounding counties to better understand how public health incentives are received by the community.

And there's an interesting twist.

"In our sweepstakes, we're also using what behavioral scientists call a 'regret lottery,' which means you might find out that you could have won, if only you'd gotten vaccinated," Milkman explained during Monday's press briefing. "Knowing that's a possibility can be highly motivating. Just imagine the regret you'd feel if you got that call and discovered you would have won $50,000, if only you'd gotten your vaccine."

The decision to create a sweepstakes comes as vaccine demand across the city dwindles. Philadelphia and FEMA recently shut down the mass vaccination sites in Center City and North Philadelphia, though community clinics and pharmacies continue to have plenty of vaccine supply, and it has become more accessible than ever.

The Black Doctors COVID-19 Consortium will be partnering with the city and Wharton to help spread the word about the Philly Vax Sweepstakes.

"We are very familiar with the priority ZIP codes as we have provided barrier free and no cost testing and vaccinations since April 2020 in these communities," said Dr. Ala Stanford, head of BDCC. "This program is a way to assist communities that were both disproportionately impacted by coronavirus and had fewer testing locations and vaccination sites in their neighborhoods. We will continue to serve the community by offering all three vaccines, no appointment, walk-in, weekly vaccination clinics, as well as home vaccinations for our homebound residents. We will promote the sweepstakes to all Philadelphia residents."

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