The United States rolled out its vaccination program fairly early into the pandemic and it quickly turned out to be one of the most successful anywhere in the world – at first. Presently, 61.1% of the population is fully vaccinated with 488 million doses of various COVID-19 vaccines given, which notes a significant slow down in the rate of vaccination.
Part of this success, despite some of the drawbacks, is the clever incentives local governments have come up with to bring more people to vaccination centers. Many of those have become anecdotal, from offering citizens marijuana to holding celebratory lottery draws for vaccinated individuals.
One such vaccination lottery scheme has come under fire in Ohio. The Ohio Supreme Court, though, has sided with the lottery, ruling against complaints by protesters who argued that it was unconstitutional for the lottery to be offering material incentives for people to get the vaccine.
The vaccination scheme was sponsored by Governor Mike DeWine at the time, and it was met with a mix of approval and criticism, although the former prevailed. Two separate accusations were made against the lottery. One stipulated that the draws were discriminatory because they only included vaccinated people.
The latter argued that the lottery had misused state funds and misappropriated them to feed lottery draws that had nothing to do with the legal framework of the lottery and how it collects and reuses money. Most of the money in Ohio is allocated to education and retirement funds.
The plaintiffs, assisted by attorney Robert Gargasz, saw the case dismissed. Judge Sharon Kennedy argued that if the plaintiffs wish to proceed with the lawsuit, they will need to refile it in a country court instead.
One Million for Vaccinated Citizens, Nothing for the Rest
DeWine approved an initiative that allowed the lottery to host the Vax-a-Million Draw which essentially offered up to five $1 million prizes to anyone who has completed the vaccination mandate.
The prize also featured full-ride scholarships for colleges. Even though Ontario tried to use numerous incentives to get more citizens to vaccinate, many kept holding out against the vaccination mandates, with only 53% of the population receiving two jabs so far.
Because of places like Ohio, vaccination efforts in the United States have slowed down, falling behind others. Ohio is not the only state to come up with the idea of hosting public draws through the lottery to bring more people to vaccination centers.
States such as New York, West Virginia, and California have all come up with various initiatives designed to incentivize reluctant citizens into taking the jab. Ohio has kept piling on the lottery draws, though, launching the Vax-2-School which resulted in awarding 529 College Advantage plans that can be used in any college, university, or trade school within the state.