Ohio-like ‘cash lottery’ incentives for vaccinations unlikely for Oklahoma, health officials say

TULSA, Okla. — The Oklahoma State Department of Health is monitoring the efforts of Ohio health officials to entice more people to be vaccinated against COVID-19 through the use of a cash lottery where someone will be entered to win $1 million for a weekly drawing, but noted that a cash giveaway in Oklahoma is highly unlikely at this point.

This week, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine announced anyone willing to roll up their sleeves for a COVID-19 shot will be entered for a chance at a cash prize or college scholarship.

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Beginning May 26, adults who have received at least one vaccine dose may enter a lottery that will provide a $1 million prize each Wednesday for five weeks.

In random drawings, the state will also provide five full four-year scholarships to an Ohio public university — including tuition, room-and-board, and books — to vaccinated Ohioans under 18. The money will come from existing federal pandemic relief dollars, DeWine said, and the Ohio Lottery will conduct the drawings.

FOX23 asked Oklahoma Deputy Health Commissioner Keith Reed about the possibility of something similar happening in Oklahoma as was told that while incentives had been discussed, they are going to wait to see how Ohio’s plan works out before even considering moving forward with anything.

“The incentive to being vaccinated is to stop the spread of COVID, protect yourself, and be a good neighbor by not passing this virus on to someone else,” Reed said.

Oklahoma has fallen from a high of 7th in the nation to now 38th in vaccinations, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Reed said that is because those who were most motivated to get vaccinated did so when Oklahoma was still in the process of distributing doses through a phased plan approach. Now the state is focusing on groups that have access problems, people who feel like they’ll just eventually get around to it and are not in a hurry, and also combating misinformation on social media that has caused some to become hesitant in getting the vaccine.

“We certainly haven’t talked about a cash lottery, I can tell you that,” Reed said.

Reed said there simply hadn’t been talk about when and what incentives could be out there, but OSDH did not feel like Oklahoma had reached the point where incentives would be needed.

“We’re watching what’s just getting started around the country, and we’re kind of curious if there really is any success with those,” he said.