Hawaii health officials this morning announced the first two winners of the COVID-19 vaccination incentives campaign and said based on data, so far, that it seems to be working.
Elaine Nishiura of Hilo won 100,000 HawaiianMiles courtesy of Hawaiian Airlines. Mark Matsuo of Honolulu won two round-trip tickets from Alaska Airlines, which he can use for a trip to anywhere that the airline flies.
“I really appreciate it and was very excited to have won, especially since my husband and I just celebrated our 36th wedding anniversary,” said Elaine Nishiura in a statement. “We always fly with Hawaiian and will enjoy using the miles for future travel. Also, I would like to tell everyone to get vaccinated so we can get to a more safe and normal lifestyle.”
Matsuo, too, was excited to win the Alaska Airlines tickets.
“Mahalo to Alaska Airlines for making me the first-round prize winner in the HIGotVaccinated.com contest,” said Matsuo in a statement. “Can’t wait to go somewhere and have some fun off-island. So glad I got vaccinated and you should too!”
Accuity LLP, an independent Hawaii accounting firm, verified the contest to ensure the winners were selected fairly and according to official rules.
Organizers said weekly drawings will continue to be held for the HawaiainMiles and Alaska Airlines prizes this month.
Starting this Friday, weekly drawings will also be held for two round-trip tickets on Southwest Airlines and 100,000 Marriott Bonvoy points, redeemable for use at its properties.
Health officials also announced more prizes to the lineup, which now include two nights in an Ocean Front Lanai Room at the Kahala Hotel & Resort with daily breakfast for two at the Plumeria Beach House and a customized massage for two at the spa, valued at more than $3,000.
Enjoy Snacks has also pitched in with enough snacks to last for a year, while Papa John’s Hawaii will offer a total of three “pizza for a year” prizes.
NAPA Auto Parts is offering a $1,000 gift card, and Elite Discount Furniture is offering two $500 gift cards redeemable at three Oahu locations.
Winners of these prizes will be selected at the end of the month and will be notified in July.
State health officials said they believe the incentives campaign is having an impact, so far.
Hilton Raethel, president and CEO of the Healthcare Association of Hawaii, said rates of vaccination in the state had been dropping steadily since April and in the weeks leading up to the launch of the #higotvaccinated incentives campaign on June 4.
“Although it is still early in the campaign, the first week’s data shows our vaccination numbers have increased since the campaign launched,” he said.
From June 7 to Tuesday, Raethel initially said the weekly vaccination numbers increased by 21%. Later, HAH revised the increase to 38%, reflecting more than 13,000 more vaccinated compared to the prior week. It was the first week-over-week uptick recorded in weeks.
“It would be wonderful if we could keep the number of vaccinations in this range, and if we did we could reach the governor’s benchmark of 70% herd immunity by late August or early September,” he said. “We need to do this so that our friends and families can be healthy, so that our children can go fully back to school, and so that our economy can continue to recover.”
Currently, about 98% of vaccines distributed in Hawaii are either Pfizer or Moderna, which require two doses, with only about 2% being the one-dose Johnson & Johnson, according to HAH.
Approximately 255,000 children in Hawaii are ages 11 and younger, and not yet eligible for any COVID-19 vaccines.
As of Wednesday, more than 1.6 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in the state, according to the state Health Department, with 55% of the state’s population fully vaccinated and 61% having initiated the first dose.
Brooks Baehr, Health Department spokesman, said access to vaccinations is readily available throughout the state this month.
“There will be vaccination sites at community centers, at beach parks, shopping centers, farmer’s markets, places of worship,” he said. “We will have mobile clinics going out to vaccinate homeless populations and of course, more and more clinics are popping up at schools around the state.”
Anyone looking to get vaccinated should find an opportunity right in their neighborhood, he said, including at local pharmacies.
In an effort to address those who still have questions about the COVID-19 vaccines, answers from local physicians, as well as where to get one, are available at hawaiicovid19.com.
“To date, more than 200,000 Hawaii residents have registered at HIGotVaccinated.com for a chance to win prizes donated by nearly 20 businesses.
Many of them are in the targeted age group of 18 to 44 years old, who have lower vaccination rates than kupuna in Hawaii, officials said.
More than 80 businesses are also offering discounts and deals throughout the month of June for those who show their COVID-19 vaccination cards.
To be eligible for the drawing on Friday, Hawaii residents ages 18 and up need to receive at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and register by Friday. The deadline to register for the vaccination incentive prizes online is June 30.