A new kind of contact tracing is on in Chicago as public health officials track down Illinois’ first $1 million vaccine lottery winner.
One vaccinated — and wildly lucky — city resident was selected in the state’s first drawing Thursday afternoon, along with three inoculated teens who’ve won $150,000 scholarships: one from Chicago, one from suburban Cook County and one from DeKalb County.
Winners will get a call from (312) 814-3524 or an email from DPH.email@example.com. They have a week to come forward.
Their names will be announced in eight days, unless they choose to remain anonymous, according to Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s office.
State officials only released the city or county where the winners live on Thursday, not where they actually received the vaccine or when.
“Getting vaccinated is your shot to save lives and win big,” Pritzker said in a statement. “Especially with more dangerous variants spreading, getting vaccinated is the best way to protect yourself from COVID-19.”
Eight more drawings will be held through the summer, with the next coming Monday. Anyone who’s gotten at least one shot at least one week before each drawing is automatically entered to win.
A total of $7 million in cash prizes will be doled out, plus $3 million in scholarships.
“With 10 million additional reasons to get a COVID-19 vaccine, we hope to increase the number of Illinoisans who make the important choice to secure the best protection against COVID-19 by getting vaccinated,” Illinois Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said in a statement.
“We are seeing an increase in the test positivity rate in Illinois. With the more contagious Delta variant circulating, we need more people to be fully vaccinated to better control this pandemic.”
That infection rate has more than doubled, from 0.6% to 1.4%, over the past two weeks. The vaccines are still highly effective against the more contagious Delta variant, experts say, but that mutation is expected to ravage unvaccinated communities by fall.
About 70% of eligible Illinois residents have gotten a shot, and almost 55% are fully immunized.
The state’s daily vaccination rate has plummeted to its lowest point in six month, with an average of 17,227 shots administered per day over the last week.