Ohio Raises Stakes To Boost Vaccinations, Offers Five $1 Million Drawings
She won the first of five lottery drawings intended to boost vaccination levels in the state. People over 18 are eligible. Those under 18 can enter five drawings for full college scholarships.
Updated May 27, 2021 at 5:59 PM ET
Abbigail Bugenske of Silverton near Cincinnati is Ohio's first million-dollar winner in a series of lotteries intended to encourage more people to get vaccinated against COVID-19.
Joseph Costello of Englewood near Dayton won a full college scholarship in the lottery for people under age 18 who've been vaccinated.
Amid dropping vaccine demand in Ohio, Gov. Mike DeWine announced the five weekly drawings of $1 million open to residents who've received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. The scholarship lottery for teenagers offers five full, four-year scholarships to a public university in Ohio - room and board included.
"The number of Ohioans who get the vaccine will determine what our future looks like, particularly this coming winter," DeWine said in a statewide address Wednesday. "Everyone has a stake in more Ohioans getting vaccinated."
The weekly drawings began Monday, with the announcement of the winners delayed until Wednesday while their vaccine status was confirmed. The money will come from existing federal Coronavirus Relief Funds.
"I know that some may say, 'DeWine, you're crazy! This million-dollar drawing idea of yours is a waste of money,'" DeWine said. "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."
Nearly 42% of Ohioans have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, according to state data.
DeWine's push to boost participation in the state's immunization program is part of a trend among other states. In an effort to reach those who have yet to receive a first dose, officials in other states are offering free tickets to sports games or a free beer and a shot to entice vaccination.
Elsewhere in Ohio, DeWine said other businesses are running their own incentive program. He said the Cleveland Indians are offering discounts on tickets to games, as are the state's minor league teams. The fast food restaurant, White Castle, is offering free butter cakes on a stick and Kroger, the grocery store chain, is giving employees $100 in cash.
The pool of names for the lottery drawing initially were to be pulled from the Ohio Secretary of State's publicly available voter registration database. That rule was later changed to require people to sign up on the lottery website or by phone with the Department of Health.
The Ohio Department of Health will be the sponsoring agency for the drawings, and the Ohio Lottery will conduct them. To be eligible to win, participants must be at least 18 or older on the day of the drawing, an Ohio resident, and must be vaccinated before the drawing.
Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.