Vaccine lotteries across the country may not convince around 20 percent of Americans to get their COVID-19 shot.
States including Colorado, Maryland, New York, Ohio and Oregon have announced programs, in which people can win as much as $1 million by getting the vaccine.
But a public health expert warns that while the lotteries are worthwhile to sway those who are on the fence, they are unlikely to convince adults who are staunchly against getting the jab.
‘Ultimately, the key goal across the world is to get as many shots into arms as possible, every vaccinated person is one more person with substantially reduced risk of spreading the virus further,’ Lynn Kamerlin, a professor at Uppsala University in Sweden, told DailyMail.com.
‘In that sense, the lottery will likely get a group of people who otherwise would not have gotten vaccinated vaccinated, but it will hit a ceiling because eventually you will hit the people who will not get vaccinated under any circumstances.
”How to reach out to those people I am not sure.’
Some states, like Ohio, Maryland and New York, are holding vaccine lotteries or distributing vaccine scratch cards in order to boost dwindling demand for vaccines in their state
After hitting it’s peak in late April, demand for vaccines across America has decreased in recent weeks. Lynn Kamerlin, a Swedish health expert, believes the lottery could help boost the demand, and early data from Ohio shows the lotteries may be working
America’s vaccine rollout has slowed down in recent weeks after hitting highs in late April.
For the last few weeks, the amount of Americans seeking the vaccine has declined, despite there still being a large population of unvaccinated Americans and the eligibility of the vaccine being expanded to include children aged 12 to 15.
Kamerlin says she thinks there are benefits to the vaccine lottery program, but that there is a ceiling to their effectiveness.
‘The main challenge is that there are two groups of people who don’t want to get vaccinated right now: the convinced anti-vaccine crowd, for whom no amount of lottery or other incentives is going to get them to take a vaccine.’ she said.
‘And then a second layer of people who don’t consider themselves particularly high risk for COVID in the first place, likely were masking when there were mandates but also still comfortable doing things like eating indoors unmasked, don’t have strong anti-public-health-interventions attitudes, but at the same time are neutral and feel like they are not at sufficiently high risk to warrant taking a vaccine.’
The first group of people will not be effected by programs like the vaccine lottery, as they have already made up their mind.
People in the second group will likely get vaccinated if there are enough incentives for them to do so, as they have no strong reason to not get vaccinated.
According to data from the Kaiser Family Foundation, 19 percent of Americans say they either will not get the vaccine, or will only get it if it is required.
That group is unlikely to be motivated by the lottery.
‘The vaccine lottery is a new more extreme example of initiatives like giving away free burgers at major chains and similar,’ Kamerlin continued.
‘There will for sure be a segment of people who fall in this spectrum who may otherwise not have taken the initiative to get vaccinated, but who will be more motivated when there is a big prize potentially at play for it.’
She said that there is no way to know for sure if the lottery is that exact incentive many unvaccinated but willing people need to get the shot, though.
Rep Jena Powell, an Ohio Republican in the state legislature, is attempting to block the state’s lottery program, calling it a waste of resources.
Powell referred to the lottery as a ‘grave misuse’ of funds earlier this week.
She filed a bill to stop the lottery from happening earlier this week.
Early results show that vaccination rates in the state have increased since the lottery was announced, after weeks of declining vaccine demand, especially among the state’s younger population.
The state saw a 55 percent increase in its vaccination rate after announcing the lottery.
More than 2.7 million Ohio residents have entered the lottery so far.
White House senior adviser Andy Slavitt says the federal government supports federal relief funds being used for vaccine lotteries
Maryland, New York and Oregon have announced similar vaccine lotterird in recent weeks, with Maryland already drawing a winner.
The federal government has approved the use of relief funds to go towards vaccine lotteries, which is how Ohio and the other states are finding the money for the programs.
‘We are nothing if not responsive to good ideas,’ said Andy Slavitt, the White House senior adviser on COVID-19, this week when asked about the use of relief funding for the lotteries.
‘We encourage states to use their creativity to draw attention to vaccines and get their states and the country back to normal as quickly as possible.’
As of Wednesday afternoon, almost half of Americans are fully vaccinated, and 60 percent of adults, have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.
Health officials believe the level needed to reach herd immunity may be somewhere around 80 percent of the population vaccinated.
The federal government has no plans to require the vaccine at this time.