Ohio Governor Defends State’s Lottery Program for COVID-19 Vaccine

Elias Hubbard
May 27, 2021

Abbigail Bugenske, from a Cincinnati suburb, has scooped the Midwestern state's first $1m (£700,000) Vax-a-Million prize.

"Not only are we going to have a millionaire tonight, not only are we going to have a student who going to be given who is going to be guaranteed room, board, tuition, everything else at our great state universities, but even more important is the number of Ohioans who got vaccinated".

Abbigail Bugenske of southwestern OH took home $1 million after she entered the drawing along with more than 2.7 million other vaccinated Ohioans.

Joseph Costello, a Dayton-area teenager, also won the first full-ride scholarship to any OH state college as part of the lottery for 12- to 17-year-olds who have been vaccinated.

The governor made the comments on the day the state was to announce one victor of the $1 million prize and one victor of a four-year university scholarship.

The first week of Ohio's Vax-A-Million lottery and scholarship sweepstakes saw a 97% increase in vaccinations compared to the previous week, apparently generating interest among some unvaccinated Ohioans to get their shot after weeks of falling vaccination rates across the state, a Lima News analysis of Ohio Department of Health data found.

And the rapid rise in vaccinations also underscores how far daily vaccination rates had fallen in OH before the program was announced. Teens can register themselves, but parents or legal guardians must verify their eligibility. But with the vaccine now readily available, the real waste, "is a life lost to COVID-19", the governor said.

DeWine offered the defense when prompted with a question featuring the comments of a fellow state Republican, who said the lottery is a waste of taxpayer dollars and basically a bribe. The number of people in OH age 16 and older who received their initial COVID-19 vaccine jumped 33% in the week after the state announced its million-dollar incentive lottery, according to an Associated Press analysis. Nationally, more than 165 million Americans have started the vaccination process, or about almost 50% of the population. Mike DeWine said Wednesday. More than 131 million are fully vaccinated, or almost 40%.

Ohio Governor Mike DeWine explains why the state is incentivizing vaccinations with a $1 million lottery. Colorado is setting aside $5 million of federal coronavirus relief funds that would have gone toward vaccine advertising for five residents to win $1 million each.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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