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The chance of winning a cash prize in a lottery did not seem to motivate people toward getting the COVID-19 vaccine, a new study suggests.
The study, published in JAMA Health Forum, examined whether cash drawings announcements, like the Vax-A-Million lottery in Ohio, in which adults could win money and children could win scholarships, were “associated with increased vaccine uptake.” But even though tens of millions of people were vaccinated in the months that the study authors analyzed, there wasn’t evidence that cash lotteries motivated people to get jabbed.
“Estimates of the association between an announcement and vaccination rates were very small in magnitude and statistically indistinguishable from zero,” said the study authors, later adding: “No statistically significant association was detected between a cash-drawing announcement and the number of vaccinations before or after the announcement date, a period that included announcements of lottery winners for most lottery states.”
“Results of this case-control study may reflect several factors,” they added. “Lottery-style drawings may be less effective than incentives that pay with certainty. Another possibility is that drawings were not an informative vaccine promotional strategy and that more complete messaging on vaccination would have been far more effective. Also, individuals who are hesitant to receive COVID-19 vaccinations may be influenced by vaccine misinformation.”
Business Insider estimates that about 17 states collectively spent roughly $90 million on vaccine lotteries.
Vaccine lotteries took off earlier this year, purportedly as a way to motivate otherwise hesitant people toward getting the jab. Ohio Governor Mike DeWine (R-OH), who launched the lottery in May, pushed hard to advertise the millions in potential winnings to residents.
“Some may say, ‘DeWine, you’re crazy! This million-dollar drawing idea of yours is a waste of money,’” said the governor. “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.”
Another study, released in July, also suggests that the Ohio lottery system didn’t work.
“The study, conducted by Boston University’s School of Medicine, compared vaccination rates in Ohio with some states that offered no such incentive,” reported The Daily Wire at the time. “It found that Ohio did see an increase in vaccinations after the lottery was announced – but other states saw a similar spike around the same time because the eligibility for the Pfizer vaccine was expanded to include those … 12 to 15.”
The governor’s office defended the lottery, suggested the study was flawed, and argued that they had already controlled for age when touting the results.
“The first week after Vax-a-million, we saw a 44 percent increase in Ohioans 16 and older getting the vaccine,” DeWine spokesperson Dan Tierney told Fox News 8. “According to The Washington Post, no other state saw an increase along those lines. We saw a 17 percent increase in those 16 and older in the second week.”