Coronavirus vaccine phials and lottery balls
Coronavirus vaccine phials and lottery balls

Ohio’s COVID-19 vaccination lottery incentive scheme ended this week with limited success as residents failed to turn up for their shot. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Lottery program comes to an end

Ohio has struggled to significantly increase vaccination rates among locals despite offering a lottery scheme that had millions of dollars in prizes. The state’s vaccine lottery ended on Wednesday, with vaccination rates failing to surpass the 50% mark.

vaccination rates failing to surpass the 50% mark

After Governor Mike DeWine announced the lottery scheme last month, vaccination rates increased by 43% in the first week. However, the governor admitted that its impact decreased shortly thereafter. He added that he was nonetheless happy that at least some skeptics got vaccinated off the back of the incentive program.

Amazon delivery driver Jonathan Carlyle was one of those people. On June 2, he managed to win the second of the $1m prizes. The day after winning, he said: “When y’all announced the Vax-a-Million, as soon as I heard that, I was like ‘Yes, I need to go do this now.’”

An ongoing push

The ‘Ohio Vax-a-Million’ program saw locals being in with a chance of winning $1m. Draws took place every Wednesday for five consecutive weeks. For the final draw, 3.5 million Ohioans were in the pot to win the last million-dollar prize. Anyone who had gotten at least one jab was eligible to enter. For underage people, university scholarships were instead up for grabs.

3.5 million Ohioans were in the pot to win the last million-dollar prize

As of Wednesday, about 5.5 million people in Ohio had gotten at least one dose of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine or the one-shot Johnson & Johnson jab. This represents approximately 47% of the state’s population.

Despite the ending of the lottery scheme, Governor DeWine will continue asking Ohioans to get vaccinated, especially as restrictions will be continually easing. In-person schooling will return in the fall, in addition to an end to social distancing in the state.

Concerns are also rising across the world about the new Delta variant of the virus. On Thursday, US President Joe Biden encouraged Americans to get vaccinated, warning about the spreading of the dangerous variant.

Similar struggles in other states

A number of other states also have been offering similar types of incentive programs to residents. Many of them also did not have a major impact on vaccination rates.

North Carolina recently outlined how its $1m lottery led to a dismal 1% boost in COVID-19 shot rates. North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper still hopes the state will see significant improvements in vaccine uptake over the coming days and weeks. Other states saw short-term boosts following the launch of lottery-related incentives before declines. Louisiana, New York, Colorado, Oregon, New Mexico, and Maryland all had similar schemes in place.

One of the few success stories was California. It gave out $116.5m worth of prizes, more than any other state. Governor Gavin Newsom outlined that California was one of the few states that saw a week-on-week increase in vaccination numbers off the back of its lottery incentive scheme. The observed results included a 22% rise in the week before the handing out of the grand prizes.

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