June 25, 2021
Philadelphia's experiment incentivizing COVID-19 vaccination has paid off for the first 12 winners of the city's ongoing sweepstakes, rewarding immunized city residents with cash prizes ranging from $1,000 to $50,000.
City officials announced Friday that the winner of one of the two $50,000 prizes is 53-year-old Daniel Silva, an Oak Lane resident, who said he had been wavering about whether or not to get vaccinated.
"I was initially hesitant to get the vaccine, and I even backed out of my first appointment," Silva said during a news conference with city officials Friday. "My doctor and partner encouraged me to set up a second appointment and I decided to just do it. I went down to Center City and got my first and second shots. I got my shots because my health is a priority, and because it's the right thing to do. I believe that by doing the right thing, good will keep on coming. And look at where I am now!"
Silva explained that his income has been limited due to a disability, but the prize will help him manage his finances with a little less pressure.
"This prize alleviates my worries about what I'm going to do tomorrow, or if I have enough for a certain expense. My parents died when I was 6 and since that point, I've worked hard to climb the ladder and not slide down it. I know this money will help me take the next step towards that stability."
The winner of the second $50,000 prize requested not to be identified, and Philadelphia officials described him only as a mechanic who lives in West Philadelphia.
The Philly Vax Sweepstakes consists of three scheduled drawings, the first of which was held on Monday. The next two drawings take place 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. To ensure inclusion in the drawings, register online at phillyvaxsweepstakes.com.
Half of the 12 prize winners from the first drawing live within the city's 19126 ZIP code. For each drawing, the city is selecting a section of the city where COVID-19 vaccination rates are low and giving residents there better odds at winning. For the first drawing vaccinated people living in the 19126 ZIP code had about a 100-times greater chance of claiming a prize.
Each of the three drawings will have a selected ZIP code with improved odds in the sweepstakes.
For the July 6 drawing, residents in the 19133 ZIP code of North Philadelphia will have better chances – about a 60-times greater chance this time around, officials said. The ZIP code includes parts of Hunting Park and West Kensington.
Officials said one Philadelphia resident whose name was selected for a $1,000 prize was ineligible to receive the money because the person had not been vaccinated. The sweepstakes includes all adult Philadelphia residents, meaning that those who aren't vaccinated may find out that they missed out on a chance to win money.
Funding for the Philly Vax Sweepstakes 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.
"Although it is too soon to tell whether the sweepstakes has significantly boosted vaccination rates, based on the evidence that lotteries can motivate change, there is much optimism about the sweepstakes helping to get more Philadelphians vaccinated," said Angela Duckworth, Co-Director of the Behavior Change for Good Initiative at the Wharton School.
Philadelphia announced this week that the city has surpassed the milestone of 70% of adult residents having received at least one vaccine dose. Philadelphia lifted the remainder of its COVID-19 restrictions earlier this month.
Acting health commissioner Dr. Cheryl Bettigole said the urgency to get remaining city residents vaccinated is greater now because of the Delta variant of the coronavirus, which evidence shows spreads more easily.
"Getting everyone in Philadelphia vaccinated against COVID has been the Health Department's goal since the winter," Bettigole said. "But now we're seeing more people in lower vaccinated states catch COVID because of the Delta variant – and more people being hospitalized there because of it – so it's even more important that everyone in Philadelphia not only get vaccinated, but make sure to get their second dose as soon as they're able."