(AP) — The number of people
in Ohio aged 16 and older who received their first COVID-19 vaccine
increased 33% in the week after the state announced its million-dollar incentive lottery
, though an analysis shows vaccination
rates are still far behind what they were in March and most of April
According to Ohio Department of Health
data, in the week following the lottery announcement on May 12, 119,394 people aged 16 and up received either the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine or the first part of the two-dose Pfizer
According to an Associated Press
analysis of state data, this represents a nearly 30,000 increase from the 89,464 people in the same age group who received their first shot during the seven-day period from May 6 to May 12.
The analysis excluded vaccination records for children
aged 12 to 15, who became eligible for the vaccine only on the day the lottery was announced.
Because Ohio's data does not track motive, it is impossible to say how many more adults or children were persuaded to get vaccinated by the chance to win a million dollars or a college scholarship.
According to the Health Department, the post-Vax-a-Million boost is encouraging.
“The bottom line is that this has changed the trend line in Ohioans starting the vaccination process, and rather than a decline, the trend is moving
upward,” said Alicia Shoults, a spokesperson.
However, the data show that the lottery assisted in reversing a significant drop in vaccinations.
Only about 1.5% more people were vaccinated in the seven days following the announcement of the Vax-a-Million lottery, compared to the period from April 29 to May 5, when 117,578 people received the first vaccine, and the number vaccinated following the lottery announcement is also significantly lower — by 17% — than the 143,527 vaccinations received from April 22 to April 28.
It's great if the incentive encourages thousands more residents to get vaccinated, but the state still has a long way to go if its overall vaccination rate continues to rise slowly, according to Mark Cameron, an immunologist and infectious disease researcher at Case Western Reserve University, who noted that less than half of Ohioans are vaccinated.
“If we don’t figure out how to get the population past the remaining either vaccine refusal or vaccine hesitancy, you know, then we could have issues,” Cameron said, adding that he is concerned that the urgency to get vaccinated is fading and that another surge in cases is possible as restrictions are lifted and we approach Memorial Day and the start of summer.
State Health Director Stephanie McCloud stated that the incentives were “needed to reinvigorate interest” in getting vaccinated and that there was a “dramatic increase in vaccinations” among those aged 16 and older.
As of Friday, more than 5.1 million people in Ohio had begun the vaccination process, accounting for 44% of the state, while approximately 4.5 million people had completed the process, accounting for 38% of the state.
Since Gov. Mike DeWine
announced it during a statewide address on May 12, more than a million people have entered Ohio's vaccine lottery.
After the first names are drawn and the entries are verified, the Health Department plans to release the total number of entrants on May 24. Winners must be permanent Ohio residents and have received at least one dose of the vaccine, which means that the first person drawn by the state may not be the eventual winner.
The first winners will be announced at the end of Cash Explosion, the official Ohio Lottery TV show, on May 26.
Adults interested in the $1 million prize and teenagers interested in college scholarships can both register, but parents or legal guardians must verify their eligibility.
Similar vaccine-incentive lotteries have been proposed in New York
in response to DeWine's proposal.