HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) – The first winners of the state’s COVID-19 vaccine incentive program have been announced.
“I’ve never won anything before. This is my first time winning anything. And I’m just happy.”
Carolyn won free season passes to Six Flags after she got a COVID-19 vaccine through Hartford’s Department of Health. Mayor Luke Bronin gave them to her at a press conference at City Hall Monday morning.
“Getting yourself protected is reason enough, but we’re glad to add some extra incentive, too,” said the mayor.
The state, cities, and towns have rolled out incentive programs—everything from free concert tickets to straight-up cash—to entice people still hesitant about getting the vaccine. But in speaking with Carolyn and other winners, it seems the prizes are a nice bonus, but they’re not what got the newly vaccinated over the fence.
“I was one of those who was skeptical about getting the vaccine. From the beginning, I had said ‘I’m not getting the vaccine.’ But then I changed my mind because I’ve seen a lot of my family members, my friends and all, my son and his wife got it a few weeks ago. They seemed to be fine. Everybody seemed to be fine. So I went to thinking ‘it’s not so bad after all,’” said Carolyn.
Another Hartford winner, Elois Smith, was encouraged by a coworker. She ended up winning a $1,000 cash prize.
And one of the first winners in the state’s “Rock the Shot” campaign, which offers the chance for free concert tickets to upcoming, popular summer shows, said he was vaccinated before entering the contest.
“I was on Instagram one day and I was just scrolling through and I saw an advertisement,” said Joe Ontra of Bridgeport, who ended up winning free Luke Bryan tickets.
He doesn’t think the free concert tickets are enough to get the vaccine-hesitant over their own personal hurdles, though cash incentives offered through employers did help one friend go ahead with it.
What the ads and the sweepstakes and the free money do seem to be doing–Keeping vaccine efforts in the public eye, and potentially on the minds of the 20% or so unvaccinated adults in the state.
“That variant is running around looking for people who haven’t been vaccinated so that’s why I keep the message going, ‘here’s your chance,’” said the Governor.
“If you’re on the fence, this is the time to get it. This is the time to get your vaccine. This variant is out there,” said Hartford Health Director Liany Arroyo