In mid-May 2021, the rate of vaccinations for COVID-19 continued to decline. One reason for this was that millions of eligible people had already been vaccinated. Another reason is that some people were hesitant to receive this vaccine (thanks in part to widespread misinformation about the safety of the vaccines).
As vaccination rates fell, businesses and governments started to put together plans to encourage people to get vaccinated. Krispy Kreme, for example, started offering free donuts to people who got vaccinated. In various states people who got their vaccine could get a free beer or beverage. On May 12, 2021, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine upped the ante when he announced the “Vax-a-Million” giveaway.
The Columbus Dispatch reported:
Ohio will give away $1 million prizes to five adults, plus another five full-ride public college scholarships to teens who get vaccinated against COVID-19, Gov. Mike DeWine announced on Wednesday during a statewide televised address.
Calling it “Ohio Vax-a-Million,” DeWine said drawings will be held for five consecutive Wednesdays, starting May 26, to pick the $1 million winners. The winners will be pulled from the Ohio secretary of state’s voter registration database.
DeWine explained that any adult who has received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine would be eligible for the drawing. The first winner will be announced on May 26, and consecutive winners will be announced on Wednesday nights for the following four consecutive weeks.
Two weeks from tonight on May 26th, we will announce a winner of a separate drawing for adults who have received at least their first dose of the vaccine. This announcement will occur each Wednesday for five weeks, and the winner each Wednesday will receive one million dollars.
— Governor Mike DeWine (@GovMikeDeWine) May 12, 2021
DeWine announced the “Vax-a-Million” contest during a statewide address on May 12, 2021. Ohio’s governor encouraged businesses to offer their own incentives for people to get vaccinated before announcing the state’s plan to giveaway $1 million to five Ohioans who had received their vaccine. DeWine’s announcement can be seen at around the 15-minute mark of the following video:
The local news station WHIO reported that the funds for the vaccination lottery will come from existing federal Coronavirus Relief Funds. While the Vax-a-Million contest will only be available to vaccinated persons over the age of 18, the state will also be giving away collage scholarships to those under the age of 18.
Ohio’s initial plan was to pull names from the state’s voter registration database, but on May 17, Health Director Stephanie McCloud clarified that Ohioans would have to opt-in to the contest. The Ohio Department of Health said in a press release:
Ohioans 18 and older who have received a received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine can enter to win one of five $1 million prizes. Ohioans ages 12-17 who have received a received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine can enter to win one of five four-year, full-ride scholarships, including room and board, tuition, and books, to any Ohio state college or university.
Beginning Tuesday, May 18, Ohioans who would like to enter the drawings must opt-in by visiting ohiovaxamillion.com or by calling the Ohio Department of Health Call Center at 1-833-4-ASK-ODH (1-833-427-5634) between 9 a.m. and 8 p.m. daily. Once an Ohioan enters, their entry will be carried over through all the drawings; it is not necessary to enter each week. The entry list will be reviewed, and duplicate entries will be removed prior to each week’s drawing.
You can get more details on the vaccination lottery here.