Million-Dollar Lotteries For Vaccine

by Jan Frazier

Washington, D.C. (Washington Insider Magazine) –  A variety of states have offered a million-dollar lottery in order to get more people to receive the vaccine. There has been a “decline in adults seeking out shots,” and because of this, there are “pockets of the country that remain vulnerable to the coronavirus.”

In Ohio at first, there was an uptake in vaccinations. Ohio was the first state to offer the lottery. However, the numbers have already decreased. Other states followed in Ohio’s footsteps, and they saw small gains of getting the vaccines. 

Irwin Redlener, who directs the Pandemic Resource and Response Initiative at Columbia University, claims that “it’s just not working. People aren’t buying it. The incentives don’t seem to be working – whether it’s a doughnut, a car, or a million dollars.”

The hope of the states launching the lottery was that “they could nudge a persuadable group of holdouts to get vaccinated and reduce the risk of new waves of infection.” President Joe Biden had hoped that by July 4, we would have 70 percent of the nation vaccinated. 

We are now seeing the new Delta virus on the rise in the United States. It was first seen in India, and now it “accounts for at least 10 percent of total U.S. cases.”

Hospitalizations have nearly doubled in the last few weeks in Webster, Missouri, and the outbreak is caused by the Delta virus. Scott Allen, co-administrator of the county health unit in Webster, said, “I certainly don’t see things getting any better if we don’t increase our vaccination rate.”

As America’s vaccine campaign accelerated this spring, the cases of virus dramatically fell. However, now the cases of Covid have plateaued at 15,000 per week. “The number of people receiving their first dose has dropped from just under 2 million in mid-April to 360,000, the lowest it’s been all year.”

Ohioans getting the vaccine shot rose nearly 40 percent after Republican Governor Mike DeWine made the mid-May announcement “that five adults would win $1 million each week.” However, within four weeks, the number of people getting the vaccine fell to “lower than when DeWine made the announcement.”

A $1 million prize per week was announced by Oregon Democratic Governor Kate Brown, and there was an increase in the eastern part of the state which contained the more conservative counties. However, now there is a decline in the interest in the vaccine. 

Governors of states continue to experiment with incentives. “On Wednesday, Maine Democratic Governor Janet Mills announced a sweepstakes with a twist: the prize increases $1 for every person vaccinated in the state.”

The number of adults who received their first shot in New York rose approximately 10 percent in late May, but in current weeks, it, too, has fallen.

It seems that the lottery has only provided small incremental progress at best.


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