ST. PAUL (WCCO) — Gov. Tim Walz on Thursday announced a new rewards program to get more Minnesotans vaccinated, joining a slate of other states offering incentives to boost shots.

The freebies — eligible to the first 100,000 Minnesotans who get their first dose of the vaccine from now until June 30 — include a free fishing license, state fair tickets, an annual state parks pass, a $25 Visa gift card and more.

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The effort is part of the state’s push to surpass 70% of adults 16 and older vaccinated by July 1.  As of Thursday, 64% of this population has at least one shot, according to state data.  Minnesotans 12 and older qualify for the new program.

“Take advantage of the incentives that we’re offering,” Walz said during a news conference at Fort Snelling State Park Thursday. “Get out and explore Minnesota. You, your family, your community will be safe.”

Minnesota isn’t alone in offering rewards in exchange for shots in arms. Some states have lotteries that offer cash and free college tuition at public universities.

Gov. Tim Walz (credit: CBS)

In Ohio, the state on Thursday announced the first winner of its “Vax-a-Million” series that gives away $1 million to one lucky vaccinated winner each week for five weeks. Preliminary data would seem to show the effort is working: the state saw a 50% bump in vaccinations week-over-week following the announcement of the cash prize.

Minnesota’s rewards are less flashy, but Walz said they were designed with the state’s residents in mind and could have a greater impact.

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The governor noted that there was an “unprecedented” interest in fishing and hunting licenses during the pandemic, which drove more people outside where they could socialize and participate in activities safely.

“We wanted to tailor this to Minnesota attractions, staying and doing things in Minnesota,” Walz said. “And [we] thought that spreading it out further — we’ve got 100,000 people can partake in these — just fit Minnesota better,” Walz said.

The governor said the state is paying for the program with federal COVID relief money that the Minnesota Department of Health earmarked for outreach campaigns.

Below are the nine rewards Minnesotans who get vaccinated Thursday through June 30 can choose from:

  • Great Lakes Aquarium Pass
  • Mall of America Nickelodeon Universe Pass 
  • Minnesota Fishing License 
  • Minnesota State Parks Pass 
  • Minnesota Zoo Admission 
  • Northwoods Baseball League Tickets 
  • State Fair Tickets
  • Valleyfair Single-Day Admission
  • Visa Card

Minnesotans can choose their preferred reward and submit their request here beginning June 1.

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Reward requests must be submitted to the Minnesota Department of Health by 11:59 p.m. on June 30, and will be fulfilled on a rolling basis no later than July 16.

Caroline Cummings