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The Ohio governor Mike DeWine on Monday hailed the success of the state’s Vax-a-Million lottery in boosting demand for coronavirus vaccines, announcing that more than 2.7m adult residents had registered for the chance of winning $1m in one of five weekly drawings.
DeWine’s giveaway approach, however, has drawn the ire of fellow Republican state lawmakers, who are introducing legislation to shut the project down as “a frivolous use of taxpayer dollars”.
The prize money comes from Ohio’s share of the $2.2tn federal Cares Act, which was signed into law in March last year.
At a press conference on Monday afternoon, DeWine said he was encouraged by the take-up rate for the lottery, which is open only to those over 18 who can prove they are at least partially vaccinated before each prize draw. The first draw is on Wednesday.
In addition to the adult cash draw, DeWine said 104,386 younger Ohioans aged 12 to 17 had registered for a chance to win a four-year full college scholarship.
“Where we’ve seen the biggest increase is those 16 and 17 years of age,” DeWine told reporters.
“One assumes that they’re very interested in getting that scholarship, they’re looking at college coming up and they’re looking to see if they can get in.”
After the lottery was announced on 12 May, the number of vaccines administered in Ohio jumped by 33%. In that time, DeWine said, vaccine take up by 16 and 17-year-olds had increased by 94%, by 46% for 18 and 19-year-olds and by 55% for those aged 20 to 55.
In all, 2,758,470 of the 5.17 million eligible adults had begun the process of receiving the vaccine and registering for the draw, he added.
“We’re more than happy with the results. This was just so important to our future as a state, our immediate future and our long-term future. Having more people vaccinated really allows us to get back to normal.”
State representative Jena Powell, meanwhile, said she would introduce legislation to end the lottery to the Ohio House this week. She wants the money used for other initiatives such as small business recovery grants and mental health services for children.
“The vaccine lottery is a frivolous use of taxpayer dollars. They have the ability to take the vaccine if they want but we shouldn’t be putting $5m of taxpayer money to [it],” she told 2News of Dayton.
“I have to look at the whole picture and I know you’ve had a difficult year but we can’t make the future more difficult.”
Source: The Guardian
Keyword: 2.7m people have signed up for $1m vaccine lottery, Ohio governor says | US news