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DeWine: Vax-a-million driving more vaccinations

(Ohio Lottery)
Updated: May. 24, 2021 at 5:17 PM EDT
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COLUMBUS, Ohio (WTVG) - Governor Mike DeWine is touting the success of Ohio’s new Vax-a-million vaccine lottery incentive program as some lawmakers are looking to put a stop to it. During his weekly press conference, Gov. DeWine announced that COVID-19 vaccination rates have increased across virtually all demographics since the vaccine lottery was announced.

According to his office, there’s been a substantial uptick in vaccination rates among young people specifically, with a 94% increase in those ages 16 and 17. Vaccine uptake has also gone up among those ages 18 and 19 with a 46% increase in vaccinations and a 55% increase among 20-49-year-olds.

“The vaccinations we’ve received after we announced Vax-a-million has exceeded our wildest expectations. I can’t tell you how happy I am about it,” DeWine said. “It’s been a marked change, a noticeable change.”

The Ohio Lottery commission reviewed the number of registrations through the site and found more than 2.7 million Ohioans successfully entered the drawing. More than 104,000 Ohioans under the age of 18 successfully registered for the lottery scholarship.

Another indicator that the vaccine lottery has driven interest in vaccinations can be seen on a county level. Athens County has seen a 144% increase in COVID-19 vaccinations since the program announcement, according to data from the Ohio Department of Health. The state is seeing a similar trend in some Northwest Ohio counties -- Seneca County has recorded a 138% increase in vaccinations and Wyandot County had a 129% increase during that same time period.

While the Governor said the vax-a-million program has already proved worthwhile, some lawmakers are pushing back. Representative Jena Powell (R-OH80) said she is working on a bill aimed at stopping the vaccine lottery incentive. She argues the initiative is a waste of money. Powell told 13abc’s sister station, FOX19, that she believes the money could be better spent on small businesses or mental health resources for children.

Gov. DeWine said he respectfully disagrees with Rep. Powell’s criticisms of the program and would veto her bill if it makes it through the legislative process. DeWine argues that promoting vaccinations is the quickest way to end the pandemic and that any effort to do so is money well spent.

The first Vax-a-million winner will be announced at 7:29 p.m. Wednesday live on 13abc, with additional drawings televised each Wednesday night for five weeks. You can register for the lottery here.

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