Ohio governor announces weekly lottery offering $1 million to boost Covid vaccinations

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<p>Ohio is offering a million dollar lottery to incentivise getting vaccinated</p> (AP)

Ohio is offering a million dollar lottery to incentivise getting vaccinated

(AP)

A state in the US is trying to combat Covid-19 vaccine hesitancy by entering inoculation recipients into a lottery.

Ohio’s governor Mike DeWine announced that five people will win £1 million dollar jackpot over five weekly draws on a Wednesday. The first draw will begin on 26 May, and to be eligible you must have one dose of an approved vaccine, such as the ones manufactured by Pfizer or Moderna, which require two doses for maximum efficacy, or one dose of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine, which only needs one shot.

“The winner each Wednesday will receive $1 million,” he said as he reiterated the importance of vaccines actually getting into arms.

Children, those between the ages of 12 and 17, also had an incentive devised for them as only those 18 and above are entitled to the $1 million lottery. They are encouraged to get it through a weekly draw where the prize is a scholarship to any one of Ohio’s state universities.

Plans to boost vaccine uptake in the state were outlined during a broadcast last night. Before Governor DeWine made the official announcement, he praised the efforts of the population in their attempt to protect each other and the health care systems in Ohio.

“For a year, Ohioans have made sacrifices to save lives and keep our state moving forward. What you’ve done has truly worked,” he said, referring to those who respected the stay at home orders and social distancing measures.

“We have tested proven weapon in this vaccine,” he said of the jabs currently being offered statewide, and warned, “the danger of remaining unvaccinated is crystal clear”, by pointing out that nearly 100 per cent of cases ending up in hospital care were those who were unvaccinated. He also went into detail about the decreasing numbers of overall cases in the state, from 800 per 100,000 people in December to now 135 per 100,000, and acknowledged this was thanks to the success of the vaccine rollout.

The Republican was excited to discuss the potential for going back to normal life, both for those who have been inoculated, and when the state officially drops all pandemic-related restrictions on 2 June.

“As more and more Ohioans get vaccinated, we are seeing more and more the pandemic is finally turning in our corner,” he said.

After the televised address, he took to his Twitter account to reiterate the plans that he has devised.

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This is not the first state-government programme with cash as a vaccine incentive. Governor Jim Justice of West Virginia promised $100 saving bonds to residents 35 years old and younger who opted to get the shot. The state of Maryland is giving $100 to public sector staff who get their jab.

At a federal level, President Joe Biden has outlined his intentions to have 70 per cent of the American population receive one dose of the vaccine by 4 July. But as the beginning of Gov. DeWine’s message outlined, people were initially desperate to be inoculated against the virus, but numbers are dwindling.

Currently, official government numbers say 35 per cent of the population is fully vaccinated.

Critics of these schemes have said they are not always the best ways to get people willing to be vaccinated. Research on vaccine hesitancy has shown that reasons people are wary are varied, not exclusive to one segment of society, and not new to the Covid-19 pandemic, according to a Columbia University study.

A poll from NPR and Maris released last month showed that 25 per cent of Americans said they would refuse a vaccine. Five per cent said they were “undecided”.

President Joe Biden said in an interview that people seeing their peers get vaccinated might encourage others to do the same.

“When your neighbour gets a vaccine, you say, ‘Maybe I should get it?” he said to the news network.

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