ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WDVM) — The $2 million VaxCash lottery ended on Sunday, but the state rolled out a new vaccine incentive program. This initiative, titled “VaxU,” is aimed at 12- to 17-year-olds and will provide $1 million in college scholarships.
Twenty Maryland teens will be eligible for $50,000 each, so long as they’ve received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine at a location in Maryland. The drawings will begin on July 12, and two winners will be picked every week for eight weeks. The last drawing on Labor Day will select the final four winners.
“Promotions like this are just one more way that we are reinforcing the importance of getting every single Marylander that we can vaccinate against COVID-19, especially our young people,” Gov. Larry Hogan said on Wednesday during an appearance at the University of Maryland, College Park. “If any of our 12- to 17-year-olds or their parents needed another good reason, then now they can get vaccinated for a chance to win a $50,000 college scholarship.”
Winners will have their scholarships deposited into Maryland529 accounts. According to the governor’s office, there are two programs available for winners:
- A 4-Year Maryland Prepaid College Trust Account will be funded for a winner who is between the ages of 12-14 at the time of the drawing.
- A Maryland College Investment Plan contribution will be awarded to individuals between the ages of 15-17 at the time of the drawing.
Despite making the announcement at a public state school, winners aren’t required to attend public universities to receive the money. They don’t even have to stay in Maryland.
“Of course we’d love to have them attend our state universities, but if they decide down the line that they would like to attend a private institution or a school that’s outside of the state of Maryland, they can actually transfer the scholarship to the school of their choice,” said Hogan.
The same random number generator used in the VaxCash lottery will be used for the VaxU drawings. The sooner a child is vaccinated, the more drawings they will be eligible for. Currently, only the Pfizer vaccine is available for people under age 18.
“When a Marylander who is 12-17 years old is vaccinated, they, their family, friends, and countless others are protected from COVID-19, and those young community members become role models to their peers who are still unvaccinated,” said MDH Secretary of Health Dennis R. Schrader. “To date, more than half of our 12- to 17-year-olds have been vaccinated, and VaxU is just one more tool we’re using to reach this critical audience.”
Federal COVID-19 relief funds will be used to cover the cost of the program. For more information, visit the MHEC VaxU Scholarship Promotion website.