Gov. Tim Walz, D-Minn., announced a vaccine incentives program Monday for young Minnesotans aged 12 to 17 that offers hundreds of dollars in gift cards and up to $100,000 in scholarships if they get the jab.
The program, called "Kids Deserve a Shot!," encourages parents and guardians of fully vaccinated children to submit their children's proof of vaccination for the chance to win either $200 Visa gift cards or one of five $100,000 state collegiate scholarships, according to local KARE 11.
"Minnesotans 12-17 years old who start and complete their two-dose COVID-19 vaccine series between October 18 and November 30 are eligible to receive a $200 Visa gift card," a state's website says.
Participants are eligible for the collegiate scholarship drawing regardless of when they got vaccinated.
In the form they must fill out for their children to be eligible, parents are obliged to upload proof of their children's vaccination status. Parents are assured that the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) accesses the information solely for the purposes of the drawing and it remains private under the Minnesota Government Data Practices Act.
"MDH will use the information you provide to verify your child's eligibility for the drawing and to contact you in the event your child is a prize winner. You are not legally required to provide your child's information, but if you do not provide the required information (shown by a "*" symbol next to those items), your child will not be entered into the drawings," the form explains.
Minnesota state Rep. Jeremy Munson, a Republican, condemned the incentive, telling local Minneapolis outlet Alpha News: "Governor Walz is bribing children into taking a shot, while incentivizing parents with a ridiculous chance of a lottery scholarship so they sign the permission slip.
"Congress has granted pharmaceutical manufacturers complete civil and criminal immunity from vaccine injuries and deaths. Nevertheless, Governor Walz is trying to trick kids into getting a shot that President Biden has admitted could be harmful," he continued.
Young people aged 16-17 are the most reluctant age group in Minnesota regarding the vaccine, according to state data. Those aged 12-15 are the second-most hesitant age group.