California is now offering the largest sum total in vaccine incentives of anywhere in the nation, in a bid to raise the percentage of state residents who are vaccinated against COVID-19.

The state just announced a $116.5 million program that combines an automatic lottery for the already vaccinated with gift cards for the newly vaccinated as well as a lottery for those still getting their shots, with prizes up to $1.5 million for individuals — including kids 12 and up.

Anyone who's received at least one shot of a vaccine already has been automatically entered via the state's immunology registry — and, yes, that exists, and the state already knows if you've been vaccinated. As the Chronicle explains, there will be two drawings on June 4 and June 11, and in each, 15 individual, vaccinated Californians will be randomly chosen to receive $50,000 apiece. Then, on June 15, the day the state is scheduled to fully reopen, there will be a third drawing in which 10 people will be selected to each receive $1.5 million.

If the individual selected is under the age of 18, the money will be deposited into a savings account in their name that will be locked up until they turn 18.

"You don't have to register to do this as is the case in other states," Newsom said in comments today. "You're automatically registered."

Also, he warned, "Don’t go back and get vaccinated again. It won’t work."

For those not yet vaccinated, $50 pre-paid debit cards or $50 grocery cards will be given out to the next 2 million Californians to get their first shots.

Those incentives come as there's been a sharp decline in the number of first shots being administered statewide. California was vaccinated 3 million people at the peak last month, but that has declined to 1.9 million per week, with a lot of those being second doses.

All this adds up to an incentive program that's a far cry from the single $1 million prize that was offered in Ohio, which ended up going to this 22-year-old woman living in a Cincinnati suburb. But will it work?

For the not-yet-vaccinated, that leaves just over two weeks to be entered to win a $1.5 million prize — they'll be entered as long as they get their first dose before the June 15 drawing.

Newsom praised California residents who went out of their way to get their shots early. "What about everybody else that did the right thing?" he said Thursday. "What about you? Two weeks ago, two months ago, took the time away from work, waited in a long line, maybe drove 50 miles into another county and got vaccinated, and gave us the momentum that put us in the position that we are today."

Now you could be rich! Maybe. Hey, the odds are better with this lottery than in the MegaMillions or SuperLotto.

Photo: Giorgio Trovato