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Governor Announces Scholarship Lottery For Vaccinated Teens

Hand holding a syringe and injecting a vaccine into a coronavirus.
Credit: Jernej Furman / Flickr

Marylanders between 12 and 17 years old who get or have already gotten the COVID-19 vaccine are eligible to win a $50,000 scholarship to the college of their choice.

Gov. Larry Hogan announced the new program Wednesday afternoon from the University of Maryland’s flagship campus in College Park. He said the Maryland Department of Health and the Maryland Higher Education Commission, which are jointly running the program, will award two scholarships a week every week through Labor Day, plus another four scholarships on the last day, for 20 scholarships overall, totaling $1 million.

The funding comes from the federal American Rescue Plan.

Hogan said the amount of the scholarships is equal to tuition and fees at an in-state college or university. However, the money can be used at any school, in Maryland or elsewhere.

The first drawing will be this coming Monday. Anyone who has already been vaccinated by then will be entered.

“If you have not yet been vaccinated, the sooner that you do, the more scholarship drawings that you'll be eligible for,” Hogan said.

University System of Maryland Chancellor Jay Perman, a pediatrician by background, praised the program, regardless of whether students choose to spend their scholarship money in- or out-of-state.

“We know that vaccination is lagging among certain populations — young adults, teenagers — and we also know — we know — that young people do get sick with this virus,” Perman said.

The so-called Delta variant of the virus, which was first detected in India, is of particular concern, Perman said.

Only 64 cases of the variant have been detected so far in Maryland, according to Jinlene Chan, deputy secretary for public health services at the Maryland Department of Health, who was also at Wednesday’s event. She said increasing the number of people vaccinated against COVID-19 is the best way to keep the variant from spreading in Maryland.

Perman said he is hopeful the scholarship lottery program does just that.

“If the scholarships get vaccines into the arms of more adolescents, more teenagers, count me in,” he said.

However, a recent study from Boston University found that lottery incentive programs have little effect on state vaccination rates.

Still, Hogan said the Maryland vaccine lottery for adults, which just ended, was a success.

“It was getting harder and harder to get people out, and we saw a bump after announcing that program — more people that just needed that extra push,” the governor said, “which is why we think we'll hopefully have the same success with our younger people.”

Rachel Baye is a senior reporter and editor in WYPR's newsroom. @RachelBaye