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$50,000 in college scholarships for 20 vaccinated Maryland teens, Gov. Hogan announces

Every Monday, teens between the ages of 12 and 17 who are vaccinated in Maryland have a chance to win a $50,000 scholarship prize.

MARYLAND, USA — Young, vaccinated Marylanders will now have a shot at getting thousands toward their college tuition, thanks to a new announcement from Gov. Larry Hogan. Every Monday, teens vaccinated in Maryland have a chance to win a $50,000 scholarship prize.

The new $1 million “VaxU Scholarship Promotion” program will involve statewide drawings, where vaccinated residents between the ages of 12 and 17 will get a chance to win one of 20 scholarship prizes. Winners will receive the scholarship in the form of a Prepaid College Trust or College Investment Plan from Maryland 529 to cover the tuition and fees for a public four-year college or university.

This comes as the Maryland Department of Health says only 50.8% of kids in that age bracket have received their first dose as of Wednesday.

“It is absolutely critical to get our adolescent population vaccinated in order to attain the levels of immunity that we need as a country to get past this," Dr. Amy Banulis, an OBGYN and Associate Medical Director for Maternal and Child Health at the Mid Atlantic Kaiser Permanente Medical Group, said.

Meanwhile, Governor Hogan said more than 92% of Marylanders 65 and older have received a vaccine.

All who provided a Maryland address at the time of their shot and those who received the vaccine in Maryland and not at a federal facility are automatically entered into the promotion one time. Anyone eligible will continue to be entered into the pool of potential winners for each drawing, unless they are removed for having won previously. 

The drawings will begin on Monday, July 12 and end on Labor Day Monday, Sept. 6. Two winners will be chosen each Monday leading up to the holiday, at which point four winners will be chosen in that finale drawing.

The program provides another incentive for Maryland residents to continue getting vaccinated, something that the state continues to encourage.

“Promotions like this are just one more way that we are reinforcing the importance of getting every single Marylander that we can vaccinated against COVID-19 especially our young people, and it is clearer than ever before," Hogan said. "Vaccines are extremely effective but those who are unvaccinated still remain at risk."

In fact, the governor said all of the people who died from COVID in June were unvaccinated. He also said that 95% of positive cases and 93% of hospitalizations were in unvaccinated people.

The MDH said most of those who were hospitalized but had received the vaccine tested positive for the alpha or UK variant.

Still, some kids and their families are hesitant for them to get the vaccine.

“Most children don't get very sick. When they get COVID, they tend to have mild symptoms or be asymptomatic. So I think the perceived risk of COVID is lower in the younger population, therefore, there's less motivation to be vaccinated," Dr. Banulis said. "You know, young, healthy people tend to feel somewhat invincible… And I think the other part of it is that there's still a lot of myths circulating out there, particularly on social media.”

One myth is that the vaccine causes infertility, which Dr. Banulis said is completely false.

RELATED: VERIFY: No, studies do not show the COVID-19 vaccine causes fertility issues in men

She said some parents are also wary to sign their kids up for a shot.

“A lot of people would like to see, you know, more data, more proof that it's absolutely safe," Dr. Banulis said. "But I would say by way of reassurance that, you know, the, the studies that have been done, have really shown that the vaccine is just as safe and even more effective in adolescence as it is in adults.”

There are some Marylanders who will not be eligible for the scholarship prizes, all of whom are listed on the Maryland Higher Education Commission website.

“Any officer, official, contractor or employee of MDH, Maryland Higher Education Commission (MHEC), or the Governor's Office who assisted in the creation of this promotion, or in carrying out any of the drawings, or such officer’s, official’s or employee’s immediate family (spouse or domestic partner, child, parent, parent-in-law, or sibling) who resides in the same residence as the officer, official or employee,” it reads. “In addition, the winner must be independently verified by MHEC personnel to be eligible for the scholarship prize based on information required to be submitted to MHEC.”

The promotion comes on the heels of the state’s last vaccine incentive program, which was a $40,000 lottery, with a grand prize at the final drawing of $400,000. A Baltimore City resident won the grand prize on July 4. The state gave away a total of $2 million throughout the giveaway.

RELATED: Final winner of Maryland vaccine lottery chosen, Baltimore City resident wins $400,000

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