Countries worldwide are in different stages of the vaccine rollout, with some battling shortages and others experiencing more supply than there is demand.
Now, countries and states are coming up with creative solutions to the lack of demand problem … none perhaps better than Ohio’s COVID-19 vaccine lottery.
Even outside the fringe anti-vaxxers and conspiracy theory followers, there appear to be large numbers of people who are hesitant to get vaccinated due to the potential side effects, some of which have been more serious than expected.
In March, countries in Europe and elsewhere paused the use of AstraZeneca amid reports that a small number of recipients experienced blood clots, some of them fatal. In April, the U.S. paused use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine for 10 days to investigate rare cases of blood clots, before recommending its use again.
A January survey by Texas A&M University School of Public Health showed that 31% of the U.S. public did not intend to get the COVID-19 vaccine once it became available.
Yet, since the vaccine rollout, those numbers have grown smaller.
A poll by Monmouth University from last month found that 1 in 5 Americans remained unwilling to get the COVID-19 vaccine
That’s forced many states to get more creative and competitive.
Probably the best incentive is coming from Ohio, where Governor Mike DeWine and the Ohio Department of Health just launched a $1-million lottery for vaccinated residents.
According to DeWine, there will be five “Ohio Vax-a-Million” drawings
“I know that some of you are now shaking your heads and saying, 'Mike DeWine, he's crazy. This million dollar drawing idea of yours is a waste of money.' ... in the pandemic — when the vaccine is readily available to anyone who wants it — the real waste is a life that was lost now to COVID-19,” Governor DeWine said.
According to state officials, there have been approximately 1 million entries to the lottery just two days since the official launch. Ohio is also giving away five full college scholarships to vaccinated students between the ages of 12 and 17.
Other states also take their own approach when offering incentives, but nothing can top the potential of winning $1 million.
In Kentucky, those who get vaccinated at a participating Kroger or Walmart can now receive a coupon for a Kentucky lottery ticket with a top prize of $225,000.
Less exciting, is New Jersey’s offering of free beer, Connecticut’s free beverage and Maine, where vaccinated residents can choose from a free park pass, a hunting or fishing license or a $20 L.L. Bean gift card.
Across the Atlantic, the Serbian government said it would pay $30 for each citizen who gets a COVID vaccine before the end of May. The country’s president, Aleksandar Vucic, had also promised paid sick leave but was unable to deliver in the end.
No country has made vaccination mandatory, though some businesses, institutions and industries are. In March, Italy made COVID-19 vaccines mandatory for all health workers but there was no resistance there as only about one in 10,000 medical staff is refusing to be vaccinated.
However, in the U.S., hundreds of colleges will require students to be vaccinated for fall 2021 and that is not sitting well with many students, with some protesting either due to religious or political reasons.