© 2024 WOSU Public Media
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Vax-A-Million Ends With Majority Of Ohioans Unvaccinated

Ohio Lottery

The fifth and final winners of Ohio’s Vax-a-Million lottery were announced Wednesday, concluding the five week-long vaccination sweepstakes that was one of the first of its kind in the country.

Ohio saw a 43% increase in vaccinationsafter the Vax-a-Million program was announced, but numbers steadily decreased each week since.

The incentive seemed to have primarily encouraged people who were interested in getting the vaccine but had not yet gotten around to it yet, said Sharona Hoffman, professor of law and bioethics at Case Western Reserve University.

“It didn’t revolutionize the whole scene,” she said. “It got some people who were delaying for some reason, or were not 100% sure, and then, it certainly wasn’t effective for everyone, which is a disappointment, but not so much a surprise.”

The incentive, which awards one vaccinated adult $1 million and a full-ride, four-year college scholarship to a child, was announced in mid-May after Ohio’s vaccination rate significantly dropped, compared to high uptake in March and April. Before the sweepstakes, vaccinations had declined to about 10,000 per day, according to data from the Ohio Department of Health (ODH).

In the three days after the lottery was announced on May 12,the state saw a 28% increase in vaccinations, according to ODH. On May 14, more than 30,000 new vaccinations were reported, the highest number recorded in several weeks, officials said.

Now, the state is seeing less than 10,000 new vaccinations per day, according to ODH data.

The goal of the program, DeWine said, was never for vaccinations to skyrocket – it was simply to turn the tide of the plummeting rates.

“It was extremely successful in the first week [of Vax-a-Million]. What it accomplished in the first week made it a success. The second week was a good week as well ... but clearly, the impact went down after the second week,” Gov. DeWine said in a press conference Wednesday.

As of Wednesday, 47% of Ohioans have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccines, lower than the national average of 55%.

To further encourage vaccinations after the lottery concludes Wednesday, DeWine has hinted that additional statewide incentives, including prizes from Ohio businesses, could be announced soon.

While these offers could work, Hoffman said smaller-scale incentives might be a better strategy going forward. Companies could offer their employees free parking or gift cards for getting the vaccine, she said.

“Having it reinforced at the more local and personal level is helpful,” Hoffman said. “If your employer says, ‘we really want you to do this and we’re investing our own time and money in this initiative,’ that can be very convincing.”

Ultimately, it may take employers requiring the vaccine to make a substantial impact, Hoffman added.  

In addition, officials should focus their attention on younger populations, who are lagging behind in vaccinations compared to older age groups, Hoffman said.

Outreach campaigns on social media and other platforms popular with teens and twenty-somethings could be an effective strategy, she said.

More than 3.4 million adults are entered for $1 million this week, an increase of more than 41,000 since the previous drawing, and 154,889 Ohioans age 12 to 17 have signed up for a chance to win the scholarship, according to Ohio Lottery officials.

Copyright 2021 WCPN. To see more, visit WCPN.

Anna joined ideastream in 2019, where she reports on health news for WCPN and WVIZ in Cleveland. She has also served as an associate producer for NewsDepth. Before that, Anna was a 2019 Carnegie-Knight News21 fellow at Arizona State University's Walter Cronkite School of Journalism.