COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Hundreds of thousands of people have entered Ohio’s vaccine lottery that will award five $1 million prizes and five full-ride college scholarships in a promotion to increase coronavirus vaccinations, the state said, with some signs of a boost in vaccines since the program was announced.
The Ohio Department of Health fielded more than 60,000 calls about the lottery Tuesday, the day registration began, with the Vax-a-Million website receiving more than 25 million page views.
The Health Department said Wednesday it will release the total number of entrants May 24 after the first names are drawn and the verification process is completed. Winners must be permanent Ohio residents and have received at least one dose of the vaccine, meaning the first person drawn by the state might not be the eventual winner.
Both adults hoping for the $1 million prize and children looking for the college scholarships can register themselves, but parents or legal guardians must verify children’s eligibility.
Gov. Mike DeWine said earlier this week there are early indications the lottery is attracting new vaccine recipients after weeks of slowing vaccination rates.
Vaccinations for people in the 30-74 age group went up 6% on May 14 after falling 24% week over week the two prior Fridays, DeWine said Monday.
“Stay tuned, but this is the way we get out of this pandemic,” he said. “More and more Ohioans becoming vaccinated.”
DeWine said other, lower lottery prizes might have worked, but $1 million is a figure that gets people’s attention.
“There’s something magical, it seems to me, there always has been, about a million dollars,” he said.