A woman in Australia has received a surprise lottery winning of AU$1 million (US $740,000) for simply getting the COVID-19 vaccination, thanks to a philanthropic organization that aims to boost vaccine rates in the country. The Million Dollar Vax Alliance, a group of mostly anonymous donors and companies, offered an AU$1 million jackpot to one lucky Australian, while also handing out 100 AU$1,000 gift cards daily to people getting vaccinated throughout this year.
Joanne Zhu, 25, is the latest winner and with entries ending last month, likely the last. She now intends to spend the money on visiting her family in China, treating them to a luxury getaway, and investing the rest to live a comfortable life.
"I want to fly my family out from China first-class and put them up in a five-star hotel for Chinese New Year if the borders are open,” Zhu said in an interview with Sky News. "I will buy presents for my family and invest the rest of the money so I can make more money in the future and to help people if they need help."
Incentives to get vaccinated are not new. In the US, free guns, beer, cannabis, donuts, money, college scholarships, and vacations have all been used to entice people to get immunized to prevent the spread of the deadly virus, with varying degrees of success. On the flip side, there has also been talk of companies docking the salaries of unvaccinated, or deadlines to get vaccinated before your employment is terminated.
Australia was initially praised for its stringent zero-COVID strategy, including closing its borders and long lockdowns. However, with the desire to return to "normal" and the more infections Delta variant, the emphasis is now on vaccines. International borders opened for the first time last week since the pandemic began, but only for vaccinated people.
Now Australia has officially hit an 80 percent vaccination rate for ages 16+, a huge milestone in halting COVID-19 as lockdowns continue throughout the nation. The lottery itself has been partially accredited with reaching this milestone, and the government hopes that continued efforts will see national rates equal to those seen in regions such as Canberra, which now boasts a 95 percent vaccination rate.