By SARAH FLOWER
It’s been one week since Colorado announced “Comeback Cash”, a vaccine incentive program hosted by the state to encourage all eligible Coloradans to get vaccinated and get a chance to win one million dollars. With the first drawing this Friday, KSUT’s Sarah Flower gets an update with Governor Jared Polis.
Sarah Flower: Hi, this is Sarah Flower with KSUT News. Today I have an exclusive interview with Colorado Governor Jared Polis. Governor Polis, thanks so much for joining us here today.
Governor Polis: Sarah it was great seeing you in Durango two weeks ago. And it’s great to be back with you virtually, now.
Sarah Flower: I know, back to it. And there’s a lot to talk about. A week ago today I reported on a story about Colorado Comeback Cash, a vaccine incentive, which gives five different Coloradans the opportunity to get a million dollars if they’re vaccinated or started their vaccine process. So fast forward, we’re a week into this Colorado Comeback Cash, how is it going for you?
Governor Polis: Well, we’re going to be giving away the first million dollars this Friday. And so get vaccinated if you haven’t, make sure your name is in the hat, we’re going to be picking a $1 million winner randomly every week in a drawing. And that’ll be everybody who got vaccinated. Even once, you don’t have to have your second yet, you’ll be eligible. And we’ll be notifying the first lucky winner this Friday. Let’s hope it’s somebody from Southwest Colorado and you can maximize your chances by getting vaccinated if you haven’t.
Sarah Flower: How is success of this program going to be measured?
Governor Polis: We’re measuring it by how many people get vaccinated, and today is the last day to get vaccinated to be in this week’s drawings. We also recently opened up vaccinations to everybody 12 and up, we’re going to be announcing the scholarships that will be going out to kids 12 to 17. They can’t win the million dollars, but they can win $50,000 scholarships and we’ll be announcing that giveaway shortly too. So it’s a good opportunity to get your kids vaccinated as well not only to protect them, that’s the most important reason, but also because $50,000 goes a long way for college.
Sarah Flower: And as Colorado was announcing over 3 million Coloradans eligible for the vaccine have received it so far. Governor Polis, I do want to talk about the Colorado immunization information system which has come out since you made this announcement with maybe some glitches in terms of Veteran’s Administration, possibly Indian health Services and those Coloradans, that especially here in the Four Corners, that may have received their vaccine out of state, I want to talk about using CIIS as a database for pulling numbers for this sweepstakes.
Governor Polis: Yeah, so we got everybody who got vaccinated through the VA, and they will be part of the drawing. We’re having these high level discussions with the Department of Defense, we expect all of the active duty military and we want everybody who got it in Colorado and who’s a Colorado resident and was 18 and up, will be eligible for the drive. So if you came from out of state and got it here, you’re not, but if you live here and got it here you are. And of course, you know, you can still get vaccinated to make sure that you have a chance of winning a million dollars.
Sarah Flower: So you mentioned today was the last day for people for the entire drawings for the month. Let’s talk about that deadline.
Governor Polis: No, no, it’s every week, we have a new drawing from everybody who got vaccinated. So if you haven’t gotten vaccinated yet, get vaccinated, later this week, you’ll be in next week’s drawings and all the drawings going forward. So it’s five drawings total, the first winners will be notified this Friday, and if you haven’t been vaccinated yet you can get vaccinated right away to make sure you’re in those drawings.
Sarah Flower: I read the comments on the Facebook page when this was announced a week ago, but homeless people need the money, and these people need the money, and there’s always going to be a different pool where people need money from, and I know that this money also came from the Cares Act as you mentioned, from the government. It’s interesting, the criticism that something like this comes through.
Governor Polis: Well, I think you know, it’s not state taxpayer money, it’s money the federal government gave us to promote access to and support of the vaccines. So it is really up to us how to spend it, we can do ads, we’re doing buses, we’re doing, you know, different types of giveaways. And so what we found is that states that had this giveaway concept actually helped drive the bar and increase demand. And so we think it’s one of the best things that we can do with it to increase demand for the vaccine. And personally, I’m thrilled that we’ll have you know, five Coloradans win a million dollars rather than just a few more ads on television. I think that’s a good outcome.
Sarah Flower: I want to go back to this idea of CIIS and and using the database. Do you feel like doing this sweepstakes in this giveaway has helped increase some of these glitches that are in the immunization system?
Governor Polis: No, I think the immunization system by in large works well. You know, a lot of folks look themselves up and they’re in there and you can do that. But of course, you know, like any big system, there’s going to be folks that have a digit inverted for their phone number or their address. We’ll certainly do our best to find the million dollar winner so don’t worry too much. If your right phone number isn’t in there, we’ll do our best to find you and make sure to notify you that you won a million dollars.
Sarah Flower: Colorado Governor Jared Polis. Is there anything else you’d like to add for our listeners today?
Governor Polis: Well look, the most important reason to get vaccinated is to protect yourself and your family. I’ve lost two friends to COVID and I’ve had COVID myself and I’ve been vaccinated and I can tell you the vaccine is very minor and much better than getting COVID. And not only does it prevent your risk of death, but you know even if you’re not worried about death it prevents you from being hospitalized, and also from spreading it to other people, some of whom might not make it, so get vaccinated today, it’s super easy to do. You can do it at any local pharmacy. You can do it at Animas Health, La Plata Integrated Health Care, Mercy Regional Medical Center, Upper Pine River Fire Protection, it really is widely available with La Plata County about 64% vaccinated and I know we can do even better.
Sarah Flower: Governor Jared Polis. Thanks so much for joining us here today on KSUT.