Ohio Governor Mike DeWine will offer lottery-like incentives for unvaccinated Ohioans to get the COVID-19 shot.
DeWine announced that the Ohio Lottery will administer a lottery portal that will award five adults $1 million each over several weeks. Also, it will offer vaccinated kids aged 12-to-17 chances at five full scholarships to an Ohio public university.
The lottery portal for scholarships opened May 18. The first $1 million dollar winner will be announced on May 26. The scholarship and cash prizes will continue for five weeks every Wednesday.
“For a year, Ohioans have made sacrifices to save lives and keep our state moving forward. What you have done has really worked! And now, we have a powerful weapon that is almost 100 percent effective in beating the virus,” DeWine said in a news release. “Simply put, the vaccine is stronger and better than medical experts ever imagined. And now, everyone 12 and over can use it to protect themselves — to put an invisible shield of protection around themselves. Everyone can now control their own health—their own destiny.”
STATE TO USE FEDERAL RELIEF FUNDS TO COVER VAX LOTTERY COSTS
According to DeWine, federal COVID-19 relief funds will be used to pay for the lottery. The drawings will be overseen by the Ohio Department of Health and the Ohio Lottery Commission. Eligible entrants must be 18 and up, an Ohio resident and have been vaccinated by the day of the drawing.
The announcement comes days after DeWine lifted most health restrictions relating to the pandemic. Ohio will no longer mandate that masks be worn indoors. Additionally, it will no longer require social distancing and capacity limitations for public events.
REPUBLICANS BLAST VAX PAYDAY PLAN
Not all of the state’s political class is behind the lottery scheme. Former Ohio Treasurer and current candidate for the United States Senate, Josh Mandel, blasted DeWine on Twitter.
“RINO (Republican in Name Only) Governor Mike DeWine is now doing an INSANE $5 Million bribe to get more vaccines in Ohio. Here’s a better idea, Open up Ohio and let our people get back to work!”
Rep. Haraz Ghanbari called vaccines a personal choice and pushed DeWine to immediately end all COVID-19 related restrictions.
“Let me be clear: I do not support Governor Mike DeWine’s decision to offer taxpayer-funded incentives in an effort to get more Ohioans vaccinated before he lifts his health orders,” Ghanbari wrote on Instagram. “Enticing five young Ohioans with full-ride college scholarships for commencing the vaccine, and $1 million for five Ohio residents 18 and older who have started the shots is unethical and unacceptable.”
DeWine anticipated a level of pushback from residents and statehouse politicians alike.
“I know that some of you now shaking your heads and saying, ‘Mike DeWine, he’s crazy. This million-dollar drawing idea of yours is a waste of money,’” said DeWine. “The real waste at this point in the pandemic — when the vaccine is readily available to anyone who wants it — the real waste is a life that was lost now to COVID-19,”