Ohio, the state that launched the national movement to provide multi-million dollar incentives to boost vaccination rates, planned to end its program on Wednesday — still unable to break the 50 percent vaccination threshold.
The state is not alone in seeing mixed results from award incentives.
Republican Governor Mike DeWine’s May 12 announcement of the stimulus program had the desired effect, resulting in a 43 percent increase in government vaccination numbers over the previous week. But the number of vaccinations has fallen since then.
“Obviously the effect decreased after that second week,” DeWine admitted on Wednesday.
Several other states have followed suit, including Louisiana, Maryland and New York, and the effect on vaccines has been difficult to determine.
Some provinces have also joined the incentive game
In Canada, Alberta and Manitoba offered cash prizes as incentives for vaccines, while Manitoba also offered scholarships for children aged 12-17 who get two injections.
The opposition National Democratic Party of Saskatchewan urged the provincial government to provide similar incentives as Saskatchewan fell to climb among all provinces in the percentage of the population with at least one dose.
Under the New Mexico “Vax 2 the Max” lottery program, vaccinated residents can win prizes from a pool totaling $10 million. The rewards include a $5 million grand prize that will be withdrawn later this summer.
The lottery kept the vaccination rate from dropping further, but the initial payment was small. According to the governor’s office, the average seven-day vaccination registrations were 1,437 per day during the first week of the competition — just 85 more per day than the previous week.
California awarded $116.5 million in prizes – the largest amount of vaccine prize money in the country – and Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom said they ramped up vaccinations at a time when more was needed to get people to overcome reservations or inertia.
From the time the incentives were announced May 27 through the end of June 15, Newsom said California was one of the few states that saw a weekly increase in the rate of immunizations, including a 22 percent increase in the week prior to the awarding of top prizes.
The Sacramento Bee noted that the increase was skewed because the previous week included three fewer days of immunization during the Memorial Day holiday, and found that most of the increase was from second doses of Pfizer’s vaccine three weeks after 12- to 15-year-olds were infected. Eligible on May 13th.
In West Virginia, Republican Governor Jim Justice had hoped to use a series of prize money to inject new life into a vaccine campaign that has slowed dramatically after a strong early start.
When he announced the drawings last month, Justice predicted that more than two-thirds of the eligible population aged 12 or older would be vaccinated by the time he removed the mask on Sunday.
But the state has not met that goal — 61.5 percent had received at least one dose by Sunday’s first draw.
Travel added as incentive
In late May, Oregon Governor Kate Brown announced that Oregon residents age 18 or older who received at least their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine would be automatically entered to win $1 million or one of 36 prizes of $10,000 — with one winner In each county.
Oregon residents between the ages of 12 and 17 have a chance to win one of five scholarships worth $100,000. Drawing is scheduled for June 28.
The Oregonian newspaper reported in early June that the seven-day average for adults receiving their first shot had already fallen from about 9,000 the day before Brown, a Democrat, announced the lottery to 6,700 nearly two weeks later.
Brown this month announced additional prizes including travel packages to destinations around Oregon and more than 1,500 gift cards, each worth $100, that were distributed at vaccine sites over the weekend of June 12 — an incentive that officials said brought Significant increase in the number of people to sites.
In Colorado, vaccinations have slowed since Democratic Governor Jared Polis introduced the lottery last month, with about 500,000 fewer doses given a month since Polis’ announcement, compared to the same time period a month before the contest began.
The state is offering five residents a chance to win $1 million each in a weekly lottery drawing from June 4 through July 7.
The incentive success did not last long in some areas
In Ohio, about 5.5 million people, or about 47 percent of the population, have received at least one injection of the Pfizer, Moderna or Johnson & Johnson vaccine as of Wednesday. About five million people, or 43 percent of the population, have completed the process.
While the incentive’s success was short-lived, DeWine said it convinced Ohioans who were either crossing the line or who had no plans to get vaccinated.
As evidence, Jonathan Carlisle of Toledo, an Amazon delivery employee who won a second prize of $1 million on June 2, said the next day: “When you announced Vax-a-Million, as soon as I heard it, it was like, ‘Yeah, I have to do this now .” “
DeWine continues to urge Ohioans to get vaccinated, saying the end of the state’s social distancing requirements, return to in-person classes in the fall and the multiplication of virus variants remain a concern.
Last week, DeWine held a press conference at Thomas Worthington High School in a suburb of Columbus with students and coaches who urged middle and high school children who exercise to get vaccinated.