CINCINNATI — Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine's $5 million lottery to encourage vaccinations appears to be an early win.
State health officials said Monday that more than 25,400 Covid-19 vaccine shots were administered Friday, two days after the program was announced, making it the highest vaccination day in three weeks.
Maybe more telling were the people who got vaccinated. Vaccinations for residents ages 30 to 74 spiked by 6 percent after weeks of steady decline.
"Not only have we achieved our goal of increasing public awareness and interest, but we have slowed what was a consistent decline, and in certain age groups we're seeing an increase again," state Health Director Stephanie McCloud said. "This is doing exactly what we intended it to do."
The number of people vaccinated over the weekend is expected to be available by midweek, state officials said.
"We were really encouraged by those numbers. We have really struggled with that age range [30-74] in the state of Ohio," said Melissa Wervey Arnold, CEO of the Ohio chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics. "I think it's wonderful that it gave people a second thought."
DeWine announce the initiative on Twitter on May 12. Under the program, Ohioans 18 and older who have already received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine can enter to win one of five $1 million prizes, state officials said.
Ohioans ages 12 to 17 who have had at least one shot can enter to win one of five four-year, full-ride scholarships to state colleges or universities or possibly private institutions, state officials said.
A winner will be announced on five consecutive Wednesdays, starting May 26, state officials said.
"The governor remains optimistic about the early indicators," DeWine spokesman Dan Tierney said. "The curve is now trending in the other direction as far as where we were heading. We hope that continues."
Other states have promoted incentives for residents to get vaccinated, as well — West Virginia offered $100 saving bonds to people ages 16 to 35, New Jersey offered free beers, and New York offered free MetroCards for anyone who gets a shot at a subway vaccination site, NBC News has reported.
Ohio reported 729 new coronavirus cases Monday. There have been about 1 million cases statewide, and about 5 million residents have received one vaccination shot, almost 43 percent of Ohio's population.
Starting Tuesday, Ohioans who would like to enter drawings must opt in by visiting ohiovaxamillion.com or by calling the state Health Department.
Entries will be carried over through all subsequent drawings, health officials said. Winnings are subject to taxes.
"This is a nice incentive. It gave people an opportunity to think twice about getting it," Wervey Arnold said.
The Health Department is paying for the outreach campaign with some of its federal coronavirus relief funds, which have been authorized by the U.S. Treasury for broad Covid-19 responses, health officials said.
"At the very least, this has accomplished the goal of raising awareness of the vaccine," Tierney said.