Amid dropping vaccine demand in Ohio, Governor Mike DeWine announced five, weekly drawings of $1 million open to residents who've received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. A similar lottery for teenagers will provide the lucky names with a full, four-year scholarship to a public university in Ohio - room and board included.
"The number of Ohioans who get the vaccine will determine what our future looks like, particularly this coming winter," DeWine said in a statewide address Wednesday. "Everyone has a stake in more Ohioans getting vaccinated."
The first of the weekly drawings will be May 26. The money will come from existing federal Coronavirus Relief Funds.
"I know that some may say, 'DeWine, you're crazy! This million-dollar drawing idea of yours is a waste of money,'" DeWine said. "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."
Nearly 42% of Ohioans have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, according to state data.
DeWine's push to boost participation in the state's immunization program is part of a trend among other states. In an effort to reach those who have yet to receive a first dose, officials in other states are offering free tickets to sports games or a free beer and a shot to entice vaccination.
Elsewhere in Ohio, DeWine said other businesses are running their own incentive program. He said the Cleveland Indians are offering discounts on tickets to games, as are the state's minor league teams. The fast food restaurant, White Castle, is offering free butter cakes on a stick and Kroger, the grocery store chain, is giving employees $100 in cash.
The pool of names for the lottery drawing will be pulled from the Ohio Secretary of State's publicly available voter registration database. There will also be a webpage created for people to sign up for the drawings if they are not in a voter registration database.
The Ohio Department of Health will be the sponsoring agency for the drawings, and the Ohio Lottery will conduct them. To be eligible to win, participants must be at least 18 or older on the day of the drawing, an Ohio resident, and must be vaccinated before the drawing.
An online portal will be created starting Tuesday for young participants to enter their names to win the scholarship
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