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Ohio vaccine lottery led to increase in COVID vaccinations

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Three more states, Maryland, New York and Oregon, have launched similar lottery-style initiatives with the hopes of boosting vaccinations.

As nearly 40% of the U.S. population is fully vaccinated against COVID-19, states are getting creative to entice people who are hesitant to get vaccinated.

A program that caught the attention of many people across the country is a lottery in Ohio called “Vax-a-Million,” which will award five $1 million prizes to people who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Since the announcement of the lottery in Ohio, three more states, Maryland, New York and Oregon, have launched similar lottery-style programs with the hopes of boosting vaccinations.

Some people on social media have claimed that more states are trying lottery-style games because there was an increase in vaccinations in Ohio following the announcement of its $1 million prizes.


Was there an increase in vaccinations after the announcement of Ohio’s Vax-a-Million lottery?



Yes, there was an increase in vaccinations after the Vax-a-Million lottery was announced in Ohio.


On May 12, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine announced the Vax-a-Million program. He said the state would announce once a week, beginning May 26, that a person who had received a COVID-19 vaccine would win $1 million. He said there would be a winner announced every Wednesday for five weeks, totaling five $1 million winners.

Only Ohioans who are 18 and older and have received at least the first dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines or received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine are eligible to register for the weekly $1 million prizes. Children between 12 and 17 who have received at least one dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine can enter for a chance to win one of five four-year full-ride scholarships, including room and board, tuition and books to any Ohio state college or university.

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In the days after Vax-a-Million was announced, the Ohio Department of Health said there was an increase in vaccinations among Ohioans 16 and older compared to the days before the announcement.

In a May 19 news release, Stephanie McCloud, director of the Ohio Department of Health, said vaccinations were increasing across all age groups, except for those 80 and older, who McCloud said were “highly vaccinated already.”

In a news release the next day, on May 20, the department of health said the weekend after Gov. DeWine announced Vax-a-Million, from May 14-17, there was a 28% increase in vaccinations among Ohioans 16 and older. There had been a decline in vaccinations the weekend before the announcement, from May 7 to May 10.

“This dramatic increase in vaccinations indicates that the Vax-a-Million drawing has been impactful in creating momentum for vaccinations throughout Ohio,” McCloud said in the May 20 news release. “We are grateful that the drawings are helping spur Ohioans to take this important measure to protect their health, their loved ones, and their community. Vaccines are our best tool to return to the lives we remember from before the pandemic.”

Three states, Maryland, New York and Oregon, have followed Ohio’s lead and announced similar lottery-style initiatives to try and get more people vaccinated against COVID-19.

Maryland announced its lottery program on May 20. There will be 40 straight days in which a person 18 and older who got at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine will win $40,000. The daily $40,000 drawings begin May 25 and continue through July 3. Then, on July 4, one person will win a grand prize of $400,000.

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New York also announced its program on May 20. People 18 and older who get their first dose of the Pifzer vaccine or a Johnson & Johnson vaccine at one of 10 state mass vaccination sites from May 24 to May 28 will get a lottery scratch-off ticket. The top prize is $5 million, but other winning amounts range from $20 to $50,000.

Oregon announced its initiative on May 21. Everyone 18 and older who has received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine by June 27 will be eligible to win a $1 million drawing that takes place on June 28. One person in each of Oregon’s 36 counties will also win $10,000. For Oregonians younger than 18 who have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccines, they’ll have a chance to win one of five $100,000 Oregon College Savings Plan scholarships.

The number of people getting vaccinated in Maryland, New York and Oregon has slowed after earlier peaks during the vaccine rollout. Because full reporting of vaccinations typically takes days, it’s still too early to tell what kind of impact, if any, the lottery announcements have had on vaccinations in those states.

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