By FARNOUSH AMIRI Report for America/Associated press and Ed Payne | May 24, 2021 at 5:17 PM EDT – Updated May 24 at 6:11 PM
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP/Gray News) — Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine announced Monday that millions of residents have registered for the state’s Vax-a-Million lottery, designed to encourage COVID vaccinations.
“I’m pleased to announce that 2,758,470 Ohioans have registered for the $1 million drawing,” DeWine said. “Once you’re registered you’re in for all five drawings through the next few weeks.”
More than 100,000 have signed up for a separate full-ride college scholarship drawing.
This is the first week of the drawings for residents who are fully vaccinated.
#OhioVaxAMillion Update: We continue to see increased uptake of the vaccine in response to this promotion. 2,758,470 Ohioans registered for the $1M drawing and 104,386 young Ohioans registered for the scholarship drawing. The first winners will be announced Wednesday @ 7:29 pm. pic.twitter.com/YWBoauGLFt
— Governor Mike DeWine (@GovMikeDeWine) May 24, 2021
WHO IS ELIGIBLE FOR THE $1 MILLION PRIZE?
Permanent Ohio residents who are 18 years and older and have received at least one dose of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine or the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine by the Sunday before the weekly Wednesday drawing are eligible to enter the lottery. The state determines permanent residency using the same requirements that it uses for issuing an Ohio driver’s license or eligibility to vote.
WHO IS ELIGIBLE FOR THE FULL-RIDE SCHOLARSHIP?
Permanent Ohio residents who are between 12 and 17 years of age and have received at least one dose of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine or the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine by the Sunday before the weekly Wednesday drawing are eligible to enter the lottery.
The winner can put the scholarship, which includes room and board, tuition, and books, to any Ohio state college or university of their choice. Children can enter on their own but parents or guardians would have to verify their eligibility.
ARE YOU ELIGIBLE IF YOU ARE AN OHIO RESIDENT BUT RECEIVED THE VACCINE IN ANOTHER STATE?
Yes. If you are an Ohio permanent resident, regardless of where you got your vaccine, you will be eligible for the drawing.
“We don’t care where you got your vaccine,” McCloud said. “As long as we can verify it through some combination of your vaccination card or the vaccine provider, you are more than eligible.”
HOW MANY TIMES CAN YOU ENTER YOUR NAME?
Once. The state’s lottery agency will automatically delete any duplicate entries. But, once you enter your name and finish the questionnaire either online or by phone, you will be in the drawing for all five weeks.
WHEN WILL THE DRAWINGS BEGIN AND WEEKLY WINNERS BE ANNOUNCED?
Beginning Monday, May 24, the state lottery agency will conduct the drawings for the $1 million prize and full-ride scholarships until Monday, June 21. The winners will be announced on Wednesdays, beginning May 26, and concluding on June 23. The time between the drawings and announcements will be spent verifying winners’ eligibility.
If a winner is found not to have been vaccinated, then officials will work down a list of entrants until a qualified one is found, said Pat McDonald, director for the Ohio Lottery.
HOW WILL THE PRIZE BE PAID?
The prize will be paid in a one-time, lump sum shortly after the winner is announced. The winner will be responsible for any taxes
IS THE USE OF FEDERAL FUNDS FOR THE LOTTERY LEGAL?
The use of federal funds for the vaccine lottery system is legal under the Department of Treasury requirements for the $2.2 trillion CARES Act that was passed by Congress last year in order to help states cope with the coronavirus pandemic quickly, McCloud said.
“We have to use this money to bring awareness, to help encourage and to facilitate uptake of the vaccine,” the health director said. “We knew we were going to find innovative ways to bring vaccine education and vaccine uptake to Ohioans.”
HOW WILL THE STATE MEASURE SUCCESS FROM THIS INCENTIVE?
According to McCloud, the state already sees the vaccine lottery system as a success, even before the first drawing has taken place. The immediate and intense response following the announcement of the lottery last week is seen by state officials as worth the creative bid to overcome the vaccine hesitancy that remains a stubborn problem across Ohio.
In the days following the lottery’s unveiling, McCloud said the rate of vaccinations among the 30-to-54 age range increased by 6% after weeks of decline.
Farnoush Amiri is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.
Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. Gray Media Group, Inc. contributed to this report.