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Ohio’s Vax-a-Million lottery boosts Covid-19 vaccination rate, governor says

A chance to win a $1 million prize has helped boost Ohio’s Covid-19 vaccination rate by 45%, Gov. Mike DeWine said Wednesday.

The jump came after DeWine’s May 13 announcement of special lotteries offering millions of dollars in giveaways to adults — and full scholarships to younger Ohioans who get vaccinated.

Across the country, governments, employers, sports teams and others have sought to motivate a hesitant public to get vaccinated with incentives ranging from gift cards to bonuses or free rides to vaccination sites.

Asked whether the initiative was a waste of funds, DeWine responded: “The true waste at this point in the pandemic is for someone to die from Covid.”

Ohio’s Vax-a-Million lottery has increased vaccination rates and some residents have actually “moved up” scheduled appointments to participate in the lottery, the governor said.

The winners of five Ohio lotteries will each win $1 million if they’re vaccinated, DeWine said earlier this month.

To qualify for the drawings, Ohioans must be at least 18. For 12- to 17-year-olds, separate drawings will be held, with prizes of a full-ride college scholarship.

The lottery has led to a 94% increase in vaccinations among those aged 16 and 17, DeWine told CNN.

The first-round winners were announced Wednesday evening. Abbigail Bugenske of Silverton won $1 million and Joseph Costello of Englewood won a four-year scholarship to an Ohio public university, a prize that includes tuition, room and board, and books.

New York and Maryland have also announced lotteries offering people who get vaccinated a chance to win money.

President Joe Biden has set a goal of having 70% of Americans receive at least one dose of Covid-19 vaccine by July 4.

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