By Steve Lambert, The Canadian Press
WINNIPEG — The winners of Manitoba’s COVID-19 vaccine lottery must agree to have their names publicized if they want to collect their prizes — a move that will reveal some of their personal health information.
Manny Atwal, president of Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries, said Tuesday the Crown corporation is following standard practice for all lotteries in terms of announcing winners.
“They don’t need to make a statement. They don’t need to do publicity. But just like any lottery winner, whether it’s Lotto Max or (Lotto) 6-49 or other lotteries, the name is publicized,” Atwal said.
The provincial government announced last month it would hold two lotteries to encourage more people to get vaccinated.
The draws, to be held in early August and early September, include cash prizes of $100,000 for adults and scholarships of $25,000 for youth between 12 and 17.
Everyone who gets an initial COVID-19 vaccine dose by Aug. 2 is automatically entered in the first draw. Those who receive a second dose by Sept. 6 are automatically entered in the second. People who don’t want to take part in the lottery can ask to be withdrawn, Atwal said.
The Manitoba Personal Health Information Act has restrictions on divulging people’s health details without their consent. Publicizing the fact someone has won the lottery, and has therefore been vaccinated, is allowed because the winners will be asked first, the province said.
“Trustees such as … (Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries) are authorized to disclose personal health information under the Personal Health Information Act when the individual the information is about consents to the disclosure,” the provincial vaccine team said in a prepared statement.
The Opposition New Democrats said the publicity requirement is concerning.
“Manitobans should not have to waive their right to privacy to qualify for a government program,” NDP lotteries critic Adrien Sala said.
The government is to launch an advertising campaign to promote the lottery. The ads — online, in print and on billboards — contain the words “Vax to win” and show social gatherings and other activities that could resume as the pandemic eases.
Manitoba has been making steady progress in administering vaccines in recent weeks. More than three-quarters of eligible people 12 and older have received at least one dose. Almost 58 per cent have had two shots.
There’s been a sharp drop in daily case counts of late. Health officials reported 25 new cases Tuesday and one death.