Lancaster Mayor Parris offers scholarship raffle for local teens who get vaccinated

LANCASTER, Calif. (KABC) -- To keep vaccinations humming along amongst teens, Lancaster Mayor R. Rex Parris is raffling scholarships as an incentive.

Parris says it just seems like a great opportunity on two fronts. One is to get the young people vaccinated, giving them an incentive to do it but also to counteract vaccine resistance.

The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health is reporting a sharp decline in vaccinations.

Health officials say there's been as much as a 50% drop in appointments going unfilled within the last few weeks of April.

Parris says he'll do his part to get the numbers back up.

He's offering scholarships of $10,000 and $5,000, as well as $50 gift cards for 20 winners, to Lancaster teens, ages 16, 17 and 18, who get vaccinated.

The mayor is offering the scholarship opportunity to Lancaster teens who can show proof of being fully vaccinated.

The mayor says he's paying the bill himself for the scholarship opportunity, not the taxpayers.

"You run into so many questions, and criticisms" when using taxpayer money, he said. "It's just easier to write the check."

The deadline to participate is June 30.

Parris said he is trying to overcome vaccine resistance, noting that it is strongest among others with his own political views.

"I'm a conservative Republican," Parris said. "But it is the conservative Republicans who are most vaccine-resistant. There's a thousand reasons, I guess.

"I'm a conservative Republican. I didn't say I was stupid."

UPDATE: The city of Lancaster says the rules for the scholarship program have been updated since the interview with Mayor Parris was conducted for the story in the video player above. The scholarships and gift cards are being offered as a raffle open to any teen, age 16-18, who lives in Lancaster and can provide proof of full vaccination against COVID-19. Raffle entries need to be submitted by June 30. The prizes chosen at random by raffle are one scholarship of $10,000, one scholarship of $5,000 and 20 winners of a $50 gift card.

Full contest information is available here.
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