By Mar-Vic Cagurangan
'Vax n’ win' boosts Guam's Covid shots but some residents continue to hold out
Updated: Jun 23, 2021
The pace of Guam’s vaccination program may have accelerated since the government announced the “vax n’ win” incentive two weeks ago, but for some holdouts, the lure of a $10,000 cash prize and a brand-new car is not appealing enough to roll up their sleeves.
“Somehow my conscience tells me to wait. I really do not understand why I feel I must wait,” said Tamuning resident Annette Robert, 32. “But deep in my gut, I feel like the vaccine will endanger my life in the future.”
Robert, who described herself as “a Bible-believing Christian,” said the “Church believes we are in the last days.”
The “vax n’ win” initiative is aimed at reaching herd immunity— 80 percent of Guam’s adult population— by July 21, Liberation Day.
The first winners were announced last week and another set of winners is scheduled to be announced Wednesday.
The vaccine raffle draw is not unique to Guam.
New York State is giving away scratch-off lottery tickets with a $5-million grand prize to adults who get their shot.
California’s Vax for the Win program offers a total of $116.5 million in prizes to residents who have gotten at least one vaccine dose.
West Virginia is holding a lottery with hunting rifles and shotguns as prizes. New Jersey and Connecticut give away free beer and other beverages.
For the Guam raffle draw, meanwhile, the Vigilance Committee is asking Guam officials how winners are selected.
Lee Webber, the watchdog group's president, filed a Freedom of Information Act request for "all instructions, directions, protocols, diagrams or any other public record of whatever kind or description describing the procedure by which the winners of the Vax N’ Win program were selected to win a new car, $10,000.00 in cash and other prizes."
GVB spokesperson Josh Tyquiengco said the names of those who registered their entries are drawn at random on the Woorise platform on Monday morning.
"The names drawn at this point are unverified and are submitted to DPHSS for verification. This is the longest part of the process as DPHSS checks to see if the names of the people drawn are fully vaccinated, live in Guam, and meet the requirements to participate in the promo," he said. "Once the verification process is completed, the winners are formally announced on Wednesday."
Guam is targeting to vaccinate at least or 96,000 adults by the target date.
“We have a steady flow of those seeking vaccines,” Communications director Krystal Paco-San Agustin said.
According to the Joint Information Center, 90,933 Guamanians have been fully vaccinated, accounting for about 60 percent of Guam’s population.
Paco-San Agustin attributed the crowd swells partly to the “vax n’ win” initiative and partly to the Guamanians’ desire to travel.
“We have more clinics and different formats. Micronesia Mall, for example, appears to be doing well,” Paco-San Agustin said. “And from what I’ve heard, residents like the drive-thru format.”
Of the 233,450 total doses allocated for Guam, 63,400 doses remain unused.
These doses will also be shared with travelers participating in the Guam Visitors Bureau’s freshly launched Air V&V program for tourists.
Other residents cited transportation issues, work schedules and inadequate information for procrastination.
“I have no car. My children are just busy with work schedule to take me. But I plan to go take one of the vaccines,” said Masauo M. Ruda, 63, of Sinajana.
Tom Killicho, 39, also of Sinajana, said he intended to take the vaccine shots. “But I have no transportation yet. People who can help me with transportation are still busy at work,” Killicho said. “And is it true that we need passports in order to take the shots? Mine is expired.”
“We have a car. But all of us in our family, we just don’t know where to go get the shots,” said Bercina Houmweang, 50, of Dededo.” (With additional reports from Alex Rhowuniong)