EXPLAINER: Ohio offers $1M weekly prize as vaccine incentive
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine has made many newsworthy statements in his long political career, but perhaps none has generated such an immediate and intense response as announcing a weekly $1 million prize and full-ride college scholarships to entice more Ohioans to get the COVID-19 vaccine.
The plan unveiled Wednesday by the Republican governor drew criticism from some Democratic and GOP lawmakers who said it isn't appropriate to use federal pandemic dollars for a contest. But Andy Slavitt, President Joe Biden’s senior COVID-19 advisor, said anything that draws attention to vaccines is a good thing.
DeWine says he understands people may think he’s crazy and consider the concept a waste of money. But he said Wednesday the real waste is a loss of life to the virus now that the vaccine is available.
Beginning May 26, the lottery will provide a $1 million prize on each Wednesday for five weeks.
HOW WILL THE OHIO VACCINE INCENTIVE WORK?
DeWine said details are still being ironed out, but in short, Ohioans age 18 and older who have received at least one dose of the vaccine will be entered into a weekly drawing for the $1 million prize. Vaccinated Ohioans under 18 will be entered into a similar drawing for full college scholarships, including tuition and room and board.
The state Health Department will administer the drawings with help from the Ohio Lottery Commission. Money will come from the Health Department's unspent coronavirus relief funds.
Ohio already distributed millions of dollars in federal pandemic funds, and is now in line to receive nearly $5.4 billion in aid from Biden's $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package, an amount dwarfing the lottery payouts.
CAN THE PRIZE WORK TO BOOST VACCINATIONS?
The lottery is unlikely to change the minds of those...