19 states provided million-dollar lotteries to extend COVID vaccination charges — this analysis says they did not work


At the beginning of this year, the demand for COVID-19 vaccines exceeded supply.

But when the tide turned, states dangled million-dollar lottery draws for newly vaccinated individuals in hopes of increasing vaccination rates.

Ohio pioneered its Vax-a-Million campaign in mid-May, the state’s five-week lottery that allowed Ohioers ages 18 and older to enter their vaccination card to win one of five $ 1 million prizes vaccine-linked lotteries. Ohio residents ages 12-17 could win a free ride to an Ohio State university or college.

A week after Ohio Republican Governor Mike DeWine announced the lottery, the state’s vaccination rate rose 106%, according to state data. That inspired 18 more states, including New York, California and Michigan, to offer their own vaccination lotteries.

None of the state lotteries, including Ohio, resulted in a notable surge in vaccination rates.

– Study in the JAMA Health Forum

But none of the state lotteries – including Ohio’s – resulted in a remarkable surge in vaccination rates, suggests a recent study in the JAMA Health Forum, an expert-reviewed medical journal.

There was “no statistically significant association … between the announcement of a cash withdrawal and the number of vaccinations before or after the announcement date,” according to the authors of the report from the University of Colorado Denver, San Diego State University, Bentley University, and the University of Oregon wrote.

They analyzed government vaccination dates that occurred between Jan.

One of the reasons lotteries didn’t lead to a huge surge in vaccination rates is because people just didn’t think they had a chance to win and may have responded more to a certain reward for vaccination, the authors said.

“Another possibility is that drawings were not an informative vaccine advertising strategy and that a broader message about vaccination would have been much more effective,” they added.

Ohio’s governor disagrees with the results

Nevertheless, DeWine stands by the success of Vax-a-Million, said his spokesman Dan Tierney to MarketWatch.

Tierney questioned the researchers’ conclusion that state lottery incentives had no discernible impact on vaccination rates.

“We have data showing that vaccination rates for Vax-a-Million have increased,” he said, adding that the study “does not draw any conclusions about Ohio” because the researchers did not use data straight from Ohio , but were collected via Hopkins.

“We have data showing that vaccination rates for Vax-a-Million have increased.”

– Dan Tierney, press secretary for Ohio’s Republican Governor Mike DeWine

(The report’s authors did not immediately respond to a request for comment.)

Tierney responded similarly to a separate study published in July, conducted solely in Ohio, which suggested that Vax-a-Million led to a “small and transient surge in vaccinations.”

The success of Vax-a-Million prompted DeWine to launch Ohio Vax-2 School, a vaccination-linked lottery with five $ 100,000 grand prize grants and $ 150,000 grants for residents under 25, Tierney said.

Pending Food and Drug Administration approval for the vaccine Pfizer-BioNTech PFE, +1.69% BNTX, +2.50% for use in 5-11 year olds, DeWine is intentionally waiting for the winners to be drawn. The company applied for an EUA on October 7th.

“Where Vax-a-Million was pursuing a grand-price strategy, this promotion also offers numerous smaller prizes to appeal to individuals who may be motivated by smaller incentives as opposed to large prizes,” added the DeWine spokesman.

But while Vax-2-School and Vax-a-Million share similarities, they “should not be compared apples to apples in future analysis of the programs”.

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