Ohio Lottery Incentive Program Shows No Associated Increase In COVID-19 Vaccination Rates

There was no increase in COVID-19 vaccinations associated with the Vax-a-Million lottery-based incentive program conducted in Ohio, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. The investigators said this suggests lottery incentive programs do not increase the likelihood that individuals will become vaccinated.

“Our results suggest that state-based lotteries are of limited value in increasing vaccine uptake,” said Allan J. Walkey, MD, MSc, professor of medicine at Boston University School of Medicine, in a press release. “Therefore, the resources devoted to vaccine lotteries may be more successfully invested in programs that target underlying reasons for vaccine hesitancy and low vaccine uptake.”

The study evaluated vaccination trends among adults aged 18 years or older using data from the CDC, comparing the rates in Ohio before and after the implementation of the lottery with states that did not have lottery programs. Using the states without lottery programs as a control group, the investigators found Ohio’s Vax-a-Million lottery had no significant influence on vaccination rates in the state. Prior media reports had suggested the lottery had a positive impact on vaccination rates, but according to the investigators, these reports did not account for other changes in these rates across the country. For example, many states expanded vaccine access to those between the ages of 12 and 15 years, increasing the overall vaccine uptake.

Though the investigators expressed disappointment that the program was ineffective, they hoped that their research would direct focus away from lottery programs, which are expensive and appear ineffective, and shift attention towards further studies that determine which programs more successfully increase vaccination rates. They expressed belief that it is critical to public health and safety that interventions are identified for successfully increasing COVID-19 vaccine uptake.

“It is important to rigorously evaluate strategies designed to increase vaccine uptake, rapidly deploy successful strategies, and phase out those that do not work,” Walkey said in the release.

REFERENCE

Lottery-based incentives do not increase COVID-19 vaccination rates [news release]. EurekAlert; July 2, 2021. Accessed July 6, 2021. https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2021-07/buso-lid070221.php