As US officials scramble to convince citizens to get vaccinated against Covid-19, one state is putting its money where its mouth is – offering millions in lottery prizes for those who have received an injection.
Ohio governor Mike DeWine tweeted Wednesday that his state will give a US$1 million prize away every week for five weeks in a lottery open to residents over the age of 18 who have received at least one dose of a Covid vaccine.
“I know that some may say, ‘DeWine, you’re crazy! This million-dollar drawing idea of yours is a waste of money,'” he tweeted.
“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,” the Republican governor continued.
The first winner will be announced on May 26. After that, a new winner will be drawn each Wednesday for five weeks, for the same amount each time, DeWine said.
The state is also offering a lottery for vaccinated under-17-year-olds – instead of US$1 million, they could win a full four-year scholarship to one of Ohio’s state universities, a valuable prize in a country where higher education is disproportionately expensive.
The US Food and Drug Administration on Monday extended approval of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine to adolescents ages 12 to 15.
The money will come from an existing federal fund set up to deal with the pandemic.
The US initially saw a rush for people to receive the vaccine, and roughly 58.7% of US adults have received at least one shot.
However, the number of daily doses being administered is now declining, with many of those who have not yet been vaccinated hesitant to do so.
A variety of incentives are being offered across the country to convince the undecided, including beer, doughnuts or tickets to sporting events.
This month, Maryland announced that state employees would receive US$100 if they were vaccinated. In West Virginia, the same amount is being offered as a savings bonus to 16-35 year olds, an age group more reluctant to vaccinate.