Alexander Coolidge, Cincinnati Enquirer
Published 4:15 p.m. ET May 29, 2021
Helping with the national drive to get 70% of Americans vaccinated against COVID-19, Kroger is offering customers, workers or individuals who get the shot the chance to win $1 million or free groceries for a year.
The sweepstakes are being offered in collaboration with the Biden Administration as part of the president’s bid to get the U.S. toward the threshold of herd immunity – where so many Americans are protected against the new coronavirus that it can’t spread.
Starting next week, Kroger will offer a $1 million prize and, separately, free groceries for a year to 10 other winners. The grocer will offer five weekly drawings, ultimately awarding five $1 million prizes and a free year’s groceries to 50 other winners.
Details and rules will be announced next week for the campaign, called “The Community Immunity Giveaway” and promoting it on social media with #CommunityImmunity. People who have already gotten vaccinated are also eligible to enter the drawings.
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Kroger has provided COVID-19 vaccinations since December and so far distributed more than 4.6 million doses. It began vaccinations in Ohio in January.
Early this year, Kroger offered employees a $100 bonus to get vaccinated.
Last week, as vaccinations became more widespread, Kroger dropped its mandatory mask policy for workers and shoppers who have gotten their shots.
Kroger officials say the program was hatched after the Biden Administration reached out to ask how to get more Americans vaccinated. Biden has said he wants at least 70% of Americans to get at least one vaccine shot by July 4.
“Businesses like Kroger are stepping up to the plate to encourage vaccinations,” said Ian Sams, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), in a statement. “To vaccinate more Americans and help bring this pandemic to an end, we all have to do our part, and it’s exciting that Kroger is using innovative tactics.”
Kroger officials said the company is paying for the program itself as a “good corporate citizen” and not receiving any tax or other incentives from the government to hold the giveaway.
“The faster we reach community immunity, the sooner we can all get back to enjoying backyard barbecues, live music and gathering for special occasions,” said Kroger CEO Rodney McMullen, in a statement. “(This) is another way we are doing our part to help America recover from the public health crisis and safely return to normal.”
Dick Gerstle, 88, of Anderson, receives his first dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine injection from pharmacist Kevin Uchtman at the Kroger pharmacy on Beechmont Road in Anderson Township, Ohio, on Thursday, Jan. 21, 2021. (Photo: Sam Greene/The Enquirer)
Besides Kroger stores, the Cincinnati-based grocer operates several regional supermarket chains in 35 states, including Fred Meyer, Harris Teeter, Ralphs, Mariano’s, Fry’s, Smith’s, King Soopers, QFC and others. The company has nearly 2,800 stores and employs 500,000 workers.