State's controversial $6.5 million vaccine lottery idea

·Assistant News Editor
·3-min read

Would the chance to win millions of dollars compel you to get a Covid vaccine? 

That's what one state governor in the US is hoping with a minority of holdouts threatening to limit the impact of the country's vaccine rollout. 

The United States has fully vaccinated more than 35 per cent of its population while more than 150 million (46.6 per cent) have received their first jab, according to the CDC's data

But vaccine hesitancy – particularly among Republican and Trump supporters – means supply has outstripped demand in some parts of the country, despite the proven safety and efficacy of the jabs.

Ohio Governor Mike DeWine has come up with a novel approach to combat vaccine worriers.

Each week, for five weeks, the state will be randomly awarding US$1 million ($1.29 million) to someone who has received at least their first inoculation jab. For those under 18, they could win a scholarship to any of the state's universities just for getting the vaccine.

Governor Mike DeWine getting his own vaccine.
Governor Mike DeWine getting his own vaccine, technically making him eligible for the financial windfall. Source: Mike DeWine

He announced the unconventional idea on Twitter, clearly aware it might prompt some backlash.

"I know that some may say, ‘DeWine, you’re crazy! This million-dollar drawing idea of yours is a waste of money,’ 

“But truly, the real waste at this point is the pandemic — when the vaccine is readily available to anyone who wants it — is a life lost to Covid-19," he said. 

The lotteries will be paid for out of federal government funds, he said, as the country pushes towards the elusive goal of herd immunity.

Lottery incentive labelled 'idiotic'

Conservative commentator David Webb was among those to admonish the idea. 

"This is idiotic," he replied to the governor.

"There is a better use of taxpayer dollars and even from a communication standpoint, buy ad time to encourage people to take care of themselves and make the choice if they wish to get a vaccine."

Others lamented the politicisation of the Covid vaccines and said it was disappointing such an incentive was even necessary. 

A nurse administers to a young Texas boy after regulators approved the jab for 12 to 15-year-olds. Source: AP
A nurse administers to a young Texas boy after regulators approved the jab for 12 to 15-year-olds. Source: AP

"Sad that money will change people's minds to get the vaccine, whereas getting the vaccine merely to help yourself and others was not enough," one Twitter user remarked. 

The rate of new vaccinations has slowed in recent weeks in the US, but the authorisation on Wednesday (local time) of the Pfizer shot for children aged 12 to 15 is expected to see a burst of new inoculations. 

On Thursday, president Joe Biden said the CDC's guidance had changed to approve vaccinated people not wearing masks in outdoor settings, calling it "a great day for America".

Rochelle Walensky, director of the CDC, said while some people still get Covid-19 despite being vaccinated, that’s very rare. 

Known as "breakthrough infections", she cited evidence they tend to be milder, shorter and less likely to spread to others.

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