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Ohio gov. announces $5 million lottery, full scholarships to encourage taking COVID vaccine

The money will come from existing federal Coronavirus Relief Funds.
Thu May 13, 2021 - 9:30 pm EST
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Governor Mike DeWine of Ohio. NBC4 Columbus / YouTube

COLUMBUS, Ohio, May 13, 2021 (LifeSiteNews) – Ohio’s Republican Gov. Mike DeWine unveiled Wednesday an unusual incentive to encourage more residents to take one of the experimental COVID-19 vaccines: entering recipients in weekly drawings for one million dollars.

As of May 13, almost 4.3 million Ohioans have been fully vaccinated, which is approximately 36% of the state’s population. Policymakers across the country have expressed frustration at a lack of interest in getting vaccinated by many Americans beyond the initial rush.

DeWine’s solution is to enter adults who have at least obtained the first injection of a coronavirus vaccine into a lottery for one of five drawings of one million dollars apiece, announced every Wednesday for five weeks starting May 26.

“The Ohio Department of Health will be the sponsoring agency for the drawings, and the Ohio Lottery will conduct them,” the governor said. “The money will come from existing federal Coronavirus Relief Funds.”

“I know that some may say, ‘DeWine, you’re crazy! This million-dollar drawing idea of yours is a waste of money,’” he continued. “But truly, the real waste at this point in the pandemic – when the vaccine is readily available to anyone who wants it – is a life lost to COVID-19.”

He also announced that minors between the ages of 12 and 17 will also be incentivized to take the injections with five drawings for a “full, four-year scholarship to our state universities.”

Some took issue with the propriety of using taxpayer dollars to effectively entice people to take a new vaccine around which significant controversy remains. “Fear mongering, much?” asks Townhall’s Rebecca Downs. “It's worth nothing that the Pfizer vaccine was just approved for those 12-15 years old mere days ago.”

More than 117 million Americans have received coronavirus vaccines so far, but hesitancy persists among much of the population. A recent Washington Post-ABC News poll found, for instance, that 73% of Americans say they are unwilling to take the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, use of which was temporarily paused due to concerns about blood clots. 

The currently available vaccines have been given “Emergency Use Authorization” (EUA). According to the FDA, an EUA is “a mechanism to facilitate the availability and use of medical countermeasures, including vaccines, during public health emergencies, such as the current COVID-19 pandemic.”

The FDA acknowledges that EUAs permit the use of “unapproved medical products, or unapproved uses of approved medical products” in situations where “there are no adequate, approved, and available alternatives.”

While many officeholders and media figures blame online “misinformation” for lingering vaccine hesitancy, considerably less contemplation has been spent on how the government’s own actions contribute to mistrust, from public health officials’ contradictory guidances on every major aspect of the pandemic, to mixed messaging about vaccinated people still potentially transmitting the virus to others. On Thursday, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) finally announced that vaccinated Americans can eschew masks and social distancing, both indoors and outdoors.

Clinical trials for the currently-authorized COVID-19 vaccines were performed in less than a year, when such trials traditionally take a minimum of two to four years. One of the innovations of the Trump administration’s “Operation Warp Speed” was conducting various aspects of the development process concurrently rather than sequentially, but that does not fully account for the condensing of clinical trial phases — each of which can take anywhere from 1-3 years on its own — to just three months apiece. 

Skeptics argue that leaders’ widespread preference for pressuring Americans into compliance and shutting down debate on the subject evidences a lack of interest in earning Americans’ confidence by getting to the bottom of deaths possibly related to the coronavirus vaccines. The need for financial incentives such as the Ohio lottery to get people to do something ostensibly for their own good indicates a failure among public officials to alleviate holdouts’ concerns.

Kripsy Kreme has offered Americans who show their CDC-issued vaccine cards one free donut every day for the rest of 2021. Other incentives for vaccinated customers from various businesses have included marijuana, cheesecake, and arcade tokens.


  coronavirus, covid vaccine, covid-19, covid-19 vaccine, gop, mike dewine, ohio, public health, republicans

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