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COVID-19 update: senior vaccination rate rising; Cooper announces $1M drawings

More than 80% of Beaufort County residents ages 65 and older have been completely vaccinated against COVID-19, a good sign for the age group that has accounted for almost 90% of the county’s 95 COVID-19 related deaths.

Meanwhile, almost half of the county’s adult population is fully vaccinated. As of Monday night, 52.8% of county residents ages 18 and older had been at least partially vaccinated, while 48.8% had received all of their doses — meaning one dose for Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine, or two doses for Moderna or Pfizer’s vaccine.

Beaufort County Health Director Jim Madson told the county commissioners earlier this month that he is waiting on five death certificates of Beaufort County residents to arrive from other counties. Delayed arrivals of death certificates have caused some startling jumps in the county’s death toll over the past several months, as those deaths tend to be reported simultaneously. Madson told the commissioners not to be surprised if the death toll hits 100 when the certificates arrive.

A SHOT AT $1 MILLION

In an effort to encourage more North Carolinians to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, Gov. Roy Cooper recently announced $4 million “Summer Cash” and college tuition drawings. The initiative provides potential prizes for those who haven’t been vaccinated as well as those who have. Four vaccinated North Carolinians ages 18 and older will win $1 million each and four North Carolinians ages 14-17 will win tuition for post-secondary education.

According to a press release from Cooper’s office, North Carolinians 18 and over who have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine will be automatically entered into four drawings for a chance to win a $1 million cash prize. Youth between the ages of 12 and 17 who have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine will be automatically entered into four drawings to win $125,000 towards postsecondary education. The $125,000 can be used at any post-secondary institution and is awarded in the form of a N.C. 529 account.

The initiative will run from June 23 through Aug. 4. Drawings wil take place every other Wednesday, with the first drawing scheduled for June 23. All state residents who have been at least partially vaccinated are eligible for the drawings. Those vaccinated on or after June 10, the day the program was unveiled, will be entered twice for each drawing.

“This is your shot at a million. Regardless of who wins, there’s no way to lose,” Cooper said. “A chance at a million dollars is pretty good motivation. But even if your name isn’t drawn, the worst you’ll do is get strong protection from a deadly virus.”

North Carolina joins other states that announced million-dollar drawings to promote vaccinations. Ohio, the first state to launch such a program, reported a 28 percent increase in vaccinations among those 16 and older in the first two weeks following the announcement.