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Ohio to launch vaccine ‘lottery’; Five winners to get $1 million

In This Together Ohio COVID-19 logo

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Ohio is providing new incentives in an effort to get residents to roll up their sleeves -- and they include drawings for scholarship money and five grand prizes of $1 million.

Gov. Mike DeWine announced the series of statewide drawings on Wednesday. Ohioans who receive a COVID-19 vaccination will be eligible to take part.

“For a year, Ohioans have made sacrifices to save lives and keep our state moving forward.  What you have done has really worked!" DeWine said in a statewide address. "And now, we have a powerful weapon that is almost 100 percent effective in beating the virus."

He then detailed the lottery-style drawings that are part of an effort to increase the number of Ohioans receiving vaccinations.

Ohioans under the age of 18 who are eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine will be entered into a drawing for a four-year full scholarship to any of Ohio's state colleges and universities, including full tuition, room, and board.

Ohioans aged 18 and older will be entered into a weekly drawing with a prize of up to $1 million.

A total of five weekly drawings for each prize will take place, with the first winners being announced on May 26th. Winners must have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine by the date of the respective drawing.

The drawings will be administered by the Ohio Department of Health, with technical assistance from the Ohio Lottery Commission, and will be funded through existing allocations to the Ohio Department of Health of unexpended coronavirus relief funds.

Further details and contest rules will be announced by the Ohio Department of Health and the Ohio Lottery Commission next week during a briefing to news media.

Nationwide, state and local governments have been offering incentives ranging from gift certificates to savings bonds to beer in an effort to boost participation.

Some businesses have offered additional incentives.

DeWine also announced the end of statewide health orders related to the COVID-19 outbreak.

He cited the effectiveness of the three vaccines in use in the U.S., calling them "100 percent protection" from serious coronavirus infection.

"There comes a time when individual responsibility simply must take over," he said.

In mid-January, Ohio tracked 4,200 hospitalizations from COVID-19. DeWine said this week, that number is down to 964.

"As more and more eligible Ohioans get vaccinated, we’re seeing more and more signs that the tide of this pandemic is finally turning in our favor," he said.

The Ohio Department of Health will lift all pandemic health orders, except those for nursing homes and assisted living facilities, on June 2.

Jonathan Shelley

Jonathan Shelley is the news director at WPTA TV, which he joined in 2016 following nine years in a similar role in New Orleans and previous news management positions in Oklahoma City and Las Vegas.

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