CommunityCoronavirusCovid-19William J. Ford

Maryland to Give Out $1M in Scholarships to Vaccinated Youth

In another attempt to inoculate more Marylanders against the coronavirus, Gov. Larry Hogan announced Wednesday that children ages 12 to 17 who get a vaccination could win $50,000 in college scholarships.

Hogan announced Wednesday that drawings for the state’s “VaxU Scholarship” program will be held once a week starting Monday, awarding two $50,000 scholarships for eight weeks until Labor Day, when the final four will be distributed.

“That’s 20 drawings with each one with the chance to win $50,000 scholarships,” Hogan said during a press conference at the University of Maryland in College Park. “Promotions like this are just one way we are reinforcing the importance of getting every single Marylander that we can vaccinated against COVID-19, especially our young people.”

Residents of qualifying age who get vaccinated, or already have been, will automatically be entered in the sweepstakes, though students must live in Maryland and get their vaccination in the state to be eligible.

The state’s youths were targeted partly because of health department data showing that roughly 50% of those ages 12 to 17 have received at least one dose of the two-shot vaccine from Pfizer, the only company currently authorized to vaccinate that age group.

By comparison, about 75% of residents 18 and older have received at least one dose of a vaccine.

The state’s departments of Health and Higher Education Commission will manage the $1 million scholarship program, which Hogan said will be funded with money provided by the federal government’s American Rescue Plan.

The winners’ scholarship money would be deposited in Maryland529, a state-managed college savings plan, in either a prepaid trust or an investment plan.

Although state officials encourage each student to attend a public college or university in Maryland, he or she may transfer the scholarship to a private or out-of-state institution.

The program comes on the heels of the state’s $2 million “VaxCash” lottery, which awarded $40,000 to one vaccinated person for 40 consecutive days beginning May 24. The lottery culminated in a final drawing on the Fourth of July for the $400,000 grand prize, won by a Baltimore City resident.

Meanwhile, the health department reported 100% of all coronavirus-related deaths, 95% of new cases and 93% of hospitalizations last month were of people “who have not been vaccinated,” Hogan said.

Dr. Jinlene Chan, Maryland’s deputy health secretary for public health, said Wednesday about 64 cases of the highly contagious delta variant have been confirmed in the state.

University of Maryland System Chancellor Jay Perman, who’s also a pediatrician, supports the scholarship incentive to ensure more people are vaccinated.

“I would be derelict in my duties as chancellor if I didn’t say that I hope the scholarships lead more Maryland students to discover one of the university system’s 12 institutions,” he said. “If these scholarships get vaccines into the arms of more adolescents, more teenagers, count me in.”

William J. Ford – Washington Informer Staff Writer

I decided I wanted to become a better writer while attending Bowie State University and figured that writing for the school newspaper would help. I’m not sure how much it helped, but I enjoyed it so much I decided to keep on doing it, which I still thoroughly enjoy 20 years later. If I weren’t a journalist, I would coach youth basketball. Actually, I still play basketball, or at least try to play, once a week. My kryptonite is peanut butter. What makes me happy – seeing my son and two godchildren grow up. On the other hand, a bad call made by an official during a football or basketball game makes me throw up my hands and scream. Favorite foods include pancakes and scrambled eggs which I could eat 24-7. The strangest thing that’s ever happened to me, or more accurately the most painful, was when I was hit by a car on Lancaster Avenue in Philadelphia. If I had the power or money to change the world, I’d make sure everyone had three meals a day. And while I don’t have a motto or favorite quote, I continue to laugh which keeps me from driving myself crazy. You can reach me several ways: Twitter @jabariwill, Instagram will_iam.ford2281 or e-mail, wford@washingtoninformer.com

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