Get a vaccine, win $1m: Ohio offers lottery to beat vaccine hesitancy | Ohio

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To those who are still hesitant to get the coronavirus vaccine, Ohio’s governor is asking: would you do it for a million bucks?

Mike DeWine announced on Wednesday that over the next five weeks, the state will draw the names of five people from its ledger of residents who have received at least one jab, and award them $1m each. The lottery scheme will be funded by federal coronavirus relief funds, DeWine said during a televised address.

“I know that some may say, ‘DeWine, you’re crazy!’” the Republican governor said on Twitter. “‘This million-dollar drawing idea of yours is a waste of money.’ But truly, the real waste at this point in the pandemic – when the vaccine is readily available to anyone who wants it – is a life lost to Covid-19.”

In addition to the $1m lotteries, DeWine announced that to incentivize children aged 12-17 to get vaccines, the state would draw the name of one vaccinated child to receive a full, four-year college scholarship at a state university – including fees for room, board, and books.

It is unclear whether the lottery scheme complied with federal regulations on the use of relief funds. The treasury department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Ohio’s scheme is one of many incentives that officials are hoping will boost the dwindling demand for Covid-19 vaccines. West Virginia’s governor, Jim Justice, said the state would award young residents who get jabbed $100 savings bonds; Maryland is offering $100 to state employees who get the vaccine; and New Jersey is offering residents a free beer.

The schemes have drawn mixed reactions. While some have lauded efforts to ramp up vaccination rates, other health experts have questioned the focus on offering incentives to the hesitant over removing barriers facing low-income people of color who want the vaccine but have not been able to access it.

About 30 million American adults fall into the latter category, according to a US census estimate. Some are unable to step away from work and family responsibilities for long enough to get the vaccine and recover from its side effects. Others face language barriers or are unsure of how to use online systems to sign up, or lack the transportation to get to and from appointments. Homebound seniors and disabled people have faced difficulties getting a vaccine as well.

To address some such barriers, the Biden administration has allocated $6bn for health centers serving low-income communities. This week, the administration announced additional funds for local and tribal governments to put toward outreach and a plan to offer free rideshares to vaccine centers.

Joe Biden has widely publicized his goal to have at least one vaccine dose administered to 70% of the country’s adult population by 4 July. But despite an early surge in demand, vaccination rates have been dropping in recent weeks. Some states have been turning down supplies as vaccine clinics and pharmacies struggle to fill appointments.

Hafta Ichi
Source: The Guardian
Keyword: Get a vaccine, win $1m: Ohio offers lottery to beat vaccine hesitancy | Ohio

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