“COVID has already cost us billions”: Tyler Shandro defends $3M vaccine lotto

“COVID has already cost us billions”: Tyler Shandro defends $3M vaccine lotto
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Alberta health minister Tyler Shandro praised the province's $3,000,000 COVID-19 vaccine lottery as an “investment,” but couldn't answer a question about whether it would be possible to win a payout without having to provide personal medical records.

Premier Jason Kenney announced the Open For Summer lottery over the weekend, which will hand out three $1,000,000 cash prizes to Albertans who have received, or have signed up for at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine.

Shandro gave prepared remarks defending the lottery in a press conference with Kenney:

“For those who think that $3,000,000 seems [like] a lot, we're spending this money to ensure widespread immunity that benefits every Albertan.

“Whether you're entering the draw or not, getting the vaccine or not, you are benefitting every Albertan whether you've entered the lottery or not.

“And COVID has already cost us billions. And this lottery is aimed at reducing the cost going forward. To individual Albertans who are still at risk of getting sick, and to all of us... as a province.

“Now this is an investment in Albertans, and in our province's future. We need to beat the virus once and for all.

“And like we've done throughout the pandemic, we've watched the real time results from other jurisdictions as they also, like we do, grapple with COVID-19. Including those who've launched vaccine lotteries like Ohio, like California, and several other states, and as well most recently Manitoba.

“The early evidence is in, and lotteries can help boost vaccination rates. Now we need to... clear this last hurdle, and I'm confident that we have it in us to sprint to the finish line.”

Later in the press conference, Shandro admitted that with current rules, it might be possible to win the lottery draw without even having received a dose of the vaccine.

"We wanted to make administration as simple as possible and we didn't want to be collecting personal health information...

"Many of us had already had vaccines without consent being collected to be able to [enter] the lottery. So the easiest thing was for people to just enter with a minimal amount of information, and if they're drawn... for them to be able to prove that they've been vaccinated. Good consideration: do we have to show that, when they show [with their health records], or with their paper records, that they had it the day of the cutoff? That's a good question, we can get back to you on that...”

The lottery will hand out its three prizes in stages in July, August and September, but the submission form implies that the July prize will not require proof of vaccination: “You can enter as soon as you have had your first dose, but must be able to provide proof that you have had your second dose to win the August and September draws.”

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