Gov. Laura Kelly is partnering with the Kansas Speedway to provide incentives for COVID vaccination and testing this weekend. Kansans who receive a vaccine jab or take a COVID test at the two-day event enter into a raffle for various prizes, including tickets to Speedway races and chances to drive laps around the race track.

In a press release Kelly said the event encourages Kansans to get the vaccine and will help curb a decline in Kansas vaccination uptake.

“It is critical to our state’s continued pandemic recovery efforts that every Kansan gets vaccinated,” Kelly said in a release announcing the June 4 and June 5 event.

Critics, however, say government incentives prevent individuals from true informed consent. 

“The one thing we have never had from the start in the state of Kansas regarding this virus response is a truthful adult-to-adult conversation,” Dr. Mark Steffen, a Republican state senator from Hutchinson, said. “We’ve not had that at any point in time with the Kelly administration. It’s been a misrepresentation of data. It’s been a full-throttle fear campaign.”

At the Speedway event, vaccine recipients will review educational material about the vaccines and sign a consent form. They must wait 15 minutes for observation in case they suffer allergic reactions from the injection. 

The long-term effects of the vaccine remain unknown, Steffen said.

“To sweep those under the rug with giveaways and promotions is a disservice to the people of Kansas,” he said. “Kansans are smart. Educate them. Tell them the truth, and let them make up their own minds.”

OH, NY offer lottery, scholarships

Kelly joins a handful of other governors providing incentives to receive the vaccine. At the end of May, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced 50 raffles for college scholarships to increase vaccine uptake for those between the ages of 12 and 17. 

Cities and counties across the nation are also incentivizing COVID-19 vaccination. For instance, the San Diego County Board of Supervisors is raffling 100 pairs of Padres baseball tickets. And Wyandotte County Unified Government is a co-sponsor of the Kansas Speedway event. 

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine announced on May 13 million dollar sweepstakes and free college tuition raffles for vaccine recipients. He made the announcement after vaccine uptake dipped by 25% week over week at the end of April and beginning of May. Uptake increased by 28% week over week following the Vax-a-Million drawings.

Approximately 43% of Kansans have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccines, according to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment. That’s compared to the U.S. Census Bureau estimates that reveal about 47% of U.S. residents have received a single dose of the vaccine.

The Kansas Speedway vaccine event runs from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. on June 4 at the Speedway in Kansas City, Kansas. On Saturday, June 5, the event runs from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

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