Educational staff at Kettering City Schools receive the Covid-19 vaccine as a part of Ohios Phase 1B...

Ohioans Could Win $1 Million Or A College Scholarship If They Get Vaccinated

State officials hope the prizes help combat waning interest in COVID-19 vaccines.

by Morgan Brinlee

State officials in Ohio are hoping to make COVID-19 vaccines a bit more appealing in an effort to combat residents’ waning interest. Now, Ohioans who obtain at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine won’t just be protected against the virus, they’ll also have a shot at winning $1 million or a full-ride scholarship to any public university in Ohio, too.

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine unveiled a series of lottery-style drawings Wednesday geared at boosting the number of Ohio residents vaccinated against COVID-19 through tempting prizes. Every Ohio state resident aged 18 or older who is eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine will be entered to win $1 million while every Ohio resident between the ages of 12 and 18 will be entered to win a four-year scholarship to any public university in Ohio, room and board included. To collect the prize winners must have already received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

With assistance from the Ohio Lottery Commission, the Ohio Department of Health is slated to hold two drawings a week — one drawing for each prize — for a total of five weeks. The winners of the first two drawings are scheduled to be announced May 26. Prizes are being funded with unexpended coronavirus relief funds previously allocated to the state’s health department.

“I know that some may say, 'DeWine, you're crazy! This million-dollar drawing idea of yours is a waste of money,'" NPR reported DeWine said in an address to Ohioans on Wednesday. "But truly, the real waste at this point in the pandemic — when the vaccine is readily available to anyone who wants it — is a life lost to COVID-19."

In announcing the vaccine lottery, DeWine called COVID-19 vaccines “a tested and proven weapon” against the virus. “For a year, Ohioans have made sacrifices to save lives and keep our state moving forward. What you have done has really worked!” he said in a statement released by his office. “And now, we have a powerful weapon that is almost 100% effective in beating the virus. Simply put, the vaccine is stronger and better than medical experts ever imagined. Now, everyone 12 and over can use it to protect themselves — to put an invisible shield of protection around themselves.”

According to the Ohio Department of Health, more than 4.8 million residents have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine as of May 12. That translates to nearly 42% of the state’s population, according to health officials.

But Ohio officials aren’t the only ones looking to encourage residents to obtain COVID-19 vaccines. The Cleveland Indians have offered vaccinated fans $5 discounts on game tickets. Krispy Kreme has said it will give free doughnuts to anyone who can show proof of vaccination.

If you think you’re showing symptoms of coronavirus, which include fever, shortness of breath, and cough, call your doctor before going to get tested. If you’re anxious about the virus’s spread in your community, visit the CDC for up-to-date information and resources, or seek out mental health support. You can find all of Romper’s parents + coronavirus coverage here.