Is $5 million lottery for OH vaccine recipients appropriate?


Fact Box

  • As of Friday, May 14, 2021, there have been 1.1 million coronavirus cases in the state of Ohio, with nearly 20 thousand reported deaths. 
  • Of the 9 million COVID vaccines doses given in Ohio, 36.6% of people are fully vaccinated, as of Thursday, May 13, 2021.
  • Mike DeWine has served as the 70th governor of Ohio since 2019. Previously he was attorney general for 8 years, as well as a prosecutor, senator, representative, and lieutenant governor. 
  • Ohio Governor DeWine announced on Wednesday, May 12, 2021, that Ohio would give five vaccinated Ohioans $1 million to push vaccine awareness. Individuals older than 18 are eligible as long as they have had the first dose of the vaccine.
  • The controversy lies in the million-dollar amount versus protecting human life from the COVID virus. The governor mentioned people might call him crazy for the $5 million lottery idea as a “waste of money,” but he said the “true waste - is a life lost to COVID-19.”

Ethan (Yes)

Many people are still hesitant to get the vaccine, and offering a lottery entry is an interesting and exciting way to encourage people to receive the vaccine. Approximately 81% of Ohioans are vaccinated, and this number will get closer to 100% if those who are hesitant to receive the vaccine (likely the same citizens who make up the 19% that haven't been vaccinated) are incentivized to get the vaccine. 

Many people are struggling with unemployment due to the pandemic, and the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services reported that the state is still down 307,000 jobs in the last year. Offering money as an incentive to get vaccinated is especially enticing right now. Many people will be grateful to have the chance to win money, and this is the fairest way: allowing everyone to enter the lottery and win the prize. 

In terms of appropriateness, it makes sense for the state of Ohio to do whatever it wants with the money. According to NPR, the lottery money 'will come from existing federal Coronavirus Relief Funds.' With a drop in vaccine demands in Ohio, this Coronavirus Relief Fund is being put to good use by encouraging the vaccination of Ohioans. The return of this $5 million will come when the economy bounces back—something that can only happen when more people get vaccinated, and we return to normal life. If offering money in a lottery will get people vaccinated and is what the state wants to do with its funds, then more power to them.  

Bill (No)

Ohio's puzzling idea for a lottery for vaccine recipients couldn't be more inappropriate. It's perverse to try to entice people to take an unapproved, experimental drug that could result in death or other adverse reactions. In the past five months, 4,434 reports of death have been logged in the federal government's Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System. In addition, there have been over 11,000 hospitalizations attributed to COVID vaccine inoculations. It's important to mention how the vast majority of Americans have survived COVID without requiring a vaccination. Only 6.5% of Americans sought treatment in a hospital after showing symptoms of COVID. And the vast majority of those hospitalized recovered. 

It's a gross misuse of federal COVID relief funds for Ohio to divert these monies to an unseemly lottery. These funds should go toward providing financial relief to small business owners whose livelihoods have been severely impacted by the government-mandated restrictions on commerce (through the enforcement of wearing of masks, social distancing, capacity limitations, and forced closures, etc.).

Equally as bad (if not worse) than Ohio's $1 million/week lottery is the lottery they've introduced for teenagers that tempts them with free college education. One can only surmise that the vaccine manufacturers must have enormous influence over Ohio lawmakers to get them to do their bidding to try to boost vaccine inoculations. This coming as deaths and hospitalizations have dropped dramatically over the past five months to the point where COVID is no longer a major concern (at present, only one out of 29 Ohio hospital beds are occupied by COVID patients). The curve has been flattened—without an ill-conceived lottery for experimental vaccine recipients.

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