SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – The state’s Vax 2 the Max Sweepstakes to encourage New Mexicans to get vaccinated is underway, but the way they are reaching out to people is causing some confusion.
The state started texting people to opt-in for their chance to win cash and other prizes, but it left some wondering if they were getting scammed.

The New Mexico Department of Health says if you get a text that says “Notice from NM Departmnt of Health: Reply YES to this message to opt-in to the New Mexico Vax 2 The Max Sweepstakes,” it’s real. “Its absolutely real. We’re asking people to opt in for the contest,” said David Morgan, NMDOH spokesperson.

The text had some recipients questioning the authenticity of the message. However, NMDOH says they started sending messages to encourage New Mexicans to sign up for the Vax 2 the Max Sweepstakes late last week. The second wave of texts went out Wednesday. “That’s still many New Mexicans who haven’t opted in who have been vaccinated and we want to give everybody that fair shot to be able to win some money or prizes,” said Morgan.

In the sweepstakes, 5 weekly drawings will award one $250,000 winner from each of the state’s four public health regions. Since Bernalillo County is the state’s most populous county, KRQE asked the state if residents in other regions have an unfair advantage. “That may effect people’s odds of winning but still the odds of winning are very good in this,” said Morgan.

The department says no matter the odds, there’s never been a better time right now to enter the sweepstakes. NMDOH also says if you do receive the opt-in text, just type yes and they won’t ask you to fill out or send in personal information. The first drawing was Thursday. NMDOH says the winners won’t be announced until a few days after the drawing because they need to confirm winners were vaccinated.