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State Announces First VaxMillions Winners, Both Vaccinated Before Incentive Started

The winner of this week’s $1 million prize is Darrell Washington of Weymouth, and the winner of the $300,000 college scholarship is Daniela Maldonado of Chelsea. (Courtesy Joshua Qualls/Governor’s Press Office)
The winner of this week’s $1 million prize is Darrell Washington of Weymouth, and the winner of the $300,000 college scholarship is Daniela Maldonado of Chelsea. (Courtesy Joshua Qualls/Governor’s Press Office)

A 63-year-old health insurance caseworker from Weymouth and a rising sophomore at Chelsea High School are the first winners of the state's Vaxmillions cash and scholarship giveaway.

Gov. Charlie Baker and Treasurer Deborah Goldberg presented Darrell Washington and Daniela Maldonado with oversized checks Thursday to mark their prizes in the first of five rounds of the COVID-19 vaccine incentive contest.

"With the Delta variant sort of creeping around our state, now is as good a time as any to make sure that you get vaccinated, so you can be with us here, too," Goldberg said during the presentation.

Maldonado, 15, said she comes from a low-income family and the $300,000 grant will let her "achieve goals that I wanted to do, but would have not been able to do if I hadn't had this scholarship."

Washington, who got vaccinated in April, said he felt it was important to get the shots because he has family members with comorbidities.

"I just couldn't imagine me being a host for the virus and then getting them sick and critically ill, and possibly passing away. I just couldn't do that, so whether there's a booster, doesn't matter, I will take it," he said.

Baker said that both winners got vaccinated when they were eligible. That means, they were vaccinated before the state announced the VaxMillions incentive.

Nevertheless, Baker said the incentive seems to be working. Since the state announced the lottery, about 200,000 additional people have gotten at least one shot, he said.

About 4.3 million state residents are fully vaccinated and 7,000 to 10,000 shots are going into arms every week, he said.

There are four more drawings for each prize, which are being funded by federal coronavirus relief funds.

With reporting by State House News Service's Katie Lannan, The Associated Press and WBUR's newsroom

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