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Ohio is offering $1 million lottery jackpots to vaccinated adults as an incentive for residents to get the COVID-19 vaccine

Business Insider logo Business Insider 5/12/2021 (Mia de Graaf,Andrea Michelson)
a man wearing glasses: Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine announced Wednesday that he will be offering $1 million each to five vaccinated Ohioans. Justin Merriman/Getty Images © Provided by Business Insider Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine announced Wednesday that he will be offering $1 million each to five vaccinated Ohioans. Justin Merriman/Getty Images
  • Five Ohioans will receive $1 million each in a lottery exclusively for vaccinated residents.
  • Residents younger than 18 years old will be eligible for a college scholarship instead.
  • Other states and cities have offered vaccination incentives, from crawfish to driving on a racetrack.
  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine announced Wednesday the state is running five $1 million lottery draws exclusively for vaccinated residents.

From May 26 to June 23, one adult each week who has received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, or the singular Johnson & Johnson vaccine, will receive a special, million-dollar jackpot in the state's lottery draw.

State residents aged 12 to 18 - who, as of today, are now all eligible for a vaccine - will not be eligible for the monetary lottery. Instead, they will be entered into a draw for a four-year full scholarship, tuition and accommodation included, to any state college or university.

The move is the latest effort by authorities to encourage people to get vaccinated against the coronavirus and get closer to herd immunity.

New Orleans, Louisiana, is offering free crawfish to people who get a vaccine; in Alabama, the world-famous Talladega racetrack will allow vaccinated residents to drive (their own) cars on the strip.

It's an evidence-based approach: economists have found financial incentives are much more effective to persuade the vaccine-hesitant than appealing to a person's sense of community.

Health officials agree the US needs to reach 80% vaccination coverage nationwide - and soon - before we can begin to relax measures, without the fear of a COVID-19 resurgence.

Video: Ohio governor: Get vaccinated, win a million dollars (MSNBC)


States and cities are taking that race seriously, pushing to amp up their vaccination rates as they launch reopening plans.

Ohio is fully reopening in 3 weeks

Ohioans, for example, have three weeks to get a shot before the state lifts its COVID-19 measures - from mask mandates to indoor dining capacities - everywhere except nursing homes on June 2.

"It is time to end the health orders. It's been a year. You've followed the protocols. You've done what we've asked. You've bravely fought this virus," DeWine said in his televised briefing on Wednesday, shortly after a CDC panel green-lit the Pfizer vaccine for 12- to 15-year-olds.

"And now, our cases are down, and we have a tested and proven weapon with the vaccine that all Ohioans 12 and over can utilize."

People who are registered to vote will be automatically entered, and the state will also create a sign-up form for people who are not in the voters' database.

The jackpot, drawn by the Ohio Lottery, comes from the state's share of coronavirus relief funds.

DeWine added in a tweet: "I know that some may say, 'DeWine, you're crazy! This million-dollar drawing idea of yours is a waste of money. 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."

Other states and cities are offering vaccine incentives

At least five states in addition to Ohio have come up with creative ways to convince residents to get vaccinated.

In West Virginia, residents between the ages of 16 and 35 are eligible to receive a $100 savings bond if they get vaccinated. Gov. Jim Justice said in a press briefing the initiative was meant to encourage young people to get their shots.

Some residents of Harris County, Texas, and Detroit, Michigan, will also qualify for financial perks. The Harris County government set aside $250,00o to go toward gift cards, events, and other incentives for vaccinated folks. In Detroit, anyone who pre-registers to drive another city resident to get vaccinated will receive a $50 prepaid debit card.

Chicago is experimenting with a Vax Pass program to allow vaccinated residents to attend concerts and other in-person events. And in Connecticut, the state government is partnering with local vendors to offer an age-old incentive: free booze, specifically one free drink at participating restaurants between May 19 and 31.

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