Oh yes: Adult vaccinations up 28% in Ohio since vaccine lottery was announced

(AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis, File)

Every time a new state announces a vaccination lottery, it warms my heart. Because it shows that America cares about its slow-witted citizens too.

As our former president once said, channeling the spirit of our great land: “I love the poorly educated.”


We all do, sir. Which is why Mike DeWine and the public-health bureaucracy in Ohio went the extra mile to dangle a big wad of cash at people which they have next to zero chance of actually winning.

Even those who can’t calculate probability deserve to live long, fulfilling, COVID-free lives.

It’s paying off, according to the Ohio Department of Health:

Since its announcement May 13, the Vax-a-Million campaign has helped drive an increase in vaccination rates among Ohioans 16 and older by more than 28 percent.

According to Ohio Department of Health data, vaccinations in those ages 16 and older:

Dropped by 25% the weekend of May 7 to May 10, compared to the weekend of April 30 to May 3.

Increased by 28% for the same age group from May 14 to May 17, the weekend following the announcement of the Vax-a-Million drawings.

A 53-point turnaround in a week. Here’s what the state’s overall trend line looks like. The lottery was announced on the evening of May 12.

Not all of that increase is due to wary adults being lured into getting vaccinated by the lottery. Kids aged 12-15 became eligible for Pfizer’s vaccine at around the same time. But the fact that the trend among adults turned around so dramatically leaves no doubt about the effect a cash prize has had. In fact, the day after the announcement was the first day Ohio topped 30,000 vaccinations in nearly a month. White House advisor Andy Slavitt hit on the secret to the lottery’s drawing power (apart from people being bad at math): “I think the reason they work is because the vast number of people who are not yet vaccinated are actually not opposed to getting vaccinated. They’re just not prioritizing it.” Right, polls have showed that there’s still a meaningful number out there who aren’t anti-vaccine but are of the “I’ll do it when I do it” view. The lottery drawing gives them a small incentive to do it now. And the sooner they do it, the sooner they’re protected and the sooner the pandemic ends.


Impressed by Ohio’s success, Maryland and Oregon have also announced lotteries. Interestingly, all three states are going about it in different ways. Ohio will do a weekly statewide drawing for five consecutive weeks with a $1 million prize each week. Oregon will do a single million-dollar statewide drawing on June 28 along with $10,000 drawings the same day in each of its 36 counties. Maryland is opting for a $40,000 statewide drawing every single day until July 4, when they’ll draw for a $400,000 grand prize. That sounds like a smart idea to me, guaranteeing a drumbeat of news stories about people winning day after day to tempt unvaxxed holdouts into getting their shots. And the fact that it’ll go on for weeks means the incentive will persist all the way through June.

Oh, New York is doing a vaccination lottery too. But since it has the worst governor in the country, all you get there for getting vaxxed is a free ticket for the state’s regular lottery drawing. Which means you can skip the shots if you want and spend a buck or whatever and still have the same odds of winning.

There’s only one incentive more powerful than money and the White House is already thinking about that one too. You trust people to be scrupulously honest on dating sites, don’t you?


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