We’ve heard about it with states like Ohio and California, which are offering vaccinated residents prizes to the tune of up to millions of dollars through a lottery system. Illinois, as Kevin Bessler with The Washington Examiner reported, is to become another state offering a cash prize–pre-taxed, of course–as a vaccine incentive. But, as Bessler also pointed out, such incentives may not be working.
The money, taken from federal taxpayer-funded COVID-19 relief aid, will be distributed through weekly drawings through late August.
In an effort to encourage Illinoisans to get vaccinated, the state is offering $7 million in cash prizes and $3 million in college scholarships. The lottery is open to residents who have received at least one shot of a COVID-19 vaccine in the state.
Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced this week that Illinois has added a vaccine lottery for state employees who work at direct care facilitates and have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.
Cash prizes range from $5,000 to $10,000, with other prizes including airline vouchers and tickets to sporting events, including Chicago Bears and Chicago Cubs games.
“The Chicago Cubs are happy to be part of this collaborative public-private effort to increase the state’s vaccination rates and protect frontline workers who are essential to providing services to Illinois citizens,” sad Julian Green, senior vice president of communications for the Chicago Cubs.
It’s not clear if the lottery will have much an intended effect to get more residents vaccinated. In fact, it may not matter at all.
Last Friday, a study was released from the Boston University School of Medicine, which used data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention COVID-19 Vaccine Tracker, though the study also acknowledged that the “findings are limited” by factors such as the accuracy of such tracking.
In getting to the exact numbers, the study notes how vaccinate rates had actually declined:
…After May 12, adult vaccination rates did not significantly increase in either Ohio (30 [95% CI, -53 to 113]/100?000 persons; P?=?.48) or the US (27 [95% CI, -53 to 106]/100?000 persons; P?=?.51). After the Ohio vaccine lottery was introduced (May 13-June 9), the declines in daily vaccination rates slowed in Ohio (change from before lottery announcement: 6 [95% CI, 0 to 11]/100?000 persons; P?=?.05) and in the US (change from before vaccine lottery announcement: 11 [95% CI, 6 to 16]/100?000 persons; P?<?.001).
After the lottery? Well, at least they didn’t decline by such a great margin. “[A]fter May 12 the decline in vaccination rates slowed more in the US than in Ohio,” the study mentioned.
A key takeaway from the study is that it did not find evidence the inventive worked. From the “Discussion” section:
The study did not find evidence that a lottery-based incentive in Ohio was associated with increased rates of adult COVID-19 vaccinations. In contrast, the analyses suggest that the rate of decline in vaccinations slowed to a greater extent in the US than in Ohio after the May 12 lottery announcement. The slower decline in vaccination rates among adults in the US may suggest that expansion of vaccine eligibility to adolescents also was associated with an increase in adult vaccinations. These results contrast with prior reports of increased vaccination uptake in Ohio,2 which did not account for the contemporaneous expansion in vaccine eligibility to adolescents.
“Further evidence supporting the effectiveness of lotteries as strategies for increasing vaccine uptake are needed prior to widespread and potentially costly adoption,” the study closed with. So not only are the lotteries potentially ineffective, they are “potentially costly.”
Time will tell, though, as the study may conflict with Guy’s earlier reporting, citing the Ohio Department of Health, looking at vaccine rates from May 14-May 17.
Vaccine hesitancy has been handled in a variety of ways. Dr. Anthony Fauci, has consistently been hard on those who may be wary of getting vaccinated. A recent example, as covered by Leah, entailed a Wednesday night appearance of Fauci on MSNBC’s “All in with Chris Hayes.”
“This is not complicated. We’re not asking anybody to make a political statement one way or another,” he said. “We’re saying, try to save your life, and that of your family, and that of your community.”
“It’s easy to get, it’s free and it’s readily available so you’ve got to ask, what is the problem? Get over it,” Fauci also said during the segment. “Get over this political statement and try to save the lives of yourself and your family.”
The Biden administration has even promised to go door-to-door to check in with people about vaccines. President Joe Biden himself said that “now we need to go community-by-community, neighborhood-by-neighborhood and often times, door to doors. Literally, knocking on doors,” which was echoed by White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki and HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra.
The White House had just missed its target of getting 70 percent of adults vaccinated by July 4.
Many people are terrified of governmental overreach, of the administration’s incompetence, or both.
President Biden has made remarks throughout the country encouraging Americans to get vaccinated, but the takeaways more so seem to be goofs from the president, such as when he mentioned “Latinx,” rhyming with “Kleenex,” while speaking about Hispanic populations. Biden made these remarks while in North Carolina, and also implied in that statement that Hispanics were generally hesitant to get vaccinated because, as a demographic, they were here illegally and afraid of being deported.
Vice President Kamala Harris has also been tasked with encouraging Americans to get vaccinated. From examples such figuring out the root causes of mass migration to stem the surge, to getting the For the People Act passed, she has failed in virtually every area.
Further, top travel aides have quit this unpaid position just in time for an upcoming trip the vice president is taking with her husband to address vaccine hesitancy.
The administration is stressing the effectiveness of vaccines, and they are effective. The message may be coming too little too late, though, as Biden, Harris, and Fauci appeared in public double masked and also carefully maintained social distancing, despite being among the first to be fully vaccinated.
It sure sounds like COVID relief funds, paid for by federal tax dollars, are not being used in the most effective way. If cash incentives won’t work, though, it’s not likely belittling vaccine hesitant Americans or threatening them with door-to-door visits will either.
Members of Congress, such as the 32 House Republicans who sent a letter to President Biden expressing concerns with and seeking answers on the door-to-door campaign, have emphasized an approach of letting Americans decide for themselves if they wish to be vaccinated.