As the U.S. passes 50 percent of adults fully vaccinated against COVID-19, President Joe Biden‘s administration is encouraging states and businesses to think of creative ways to encourage Americans to get their shots.
During a press briefing on Tuesday, Andy Slavitt, senior advisor on the White House COVID response team, praised Ohio‘s million-dollar lottery for vaccinated residents, which saw rates skyrocket among young adults by more than 50 percent.
He also mentioned the U.S. Treasury Department’s new guidance, which told states how they can follow Ohio’s lead by using federal funds for vaccine incentive programs.
Plus, if free donuts weren’t enough to convince you, Slavitt said Americans can consider free plane tickets with United Airlines is giving away free tickets to anywhere in the world in a lottery exclusively open to vaccinated Americans.
On Tuesday, the U.S. reached 50% of American adults fully vaccinated against COVID-19, about six months after the rollout began, but the number varies greatly by state
States are launching lotteries and other monetary incentive promotions to encourage vaccination. Pictured: A student at Kent State University gets his Johnson & Johnson shot on campus
As of today, half of American adults are fully vaccinated, per data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and about 62 percent more have had their first dose.
While vaccination rates vary greatly by state, 25 states and the District of Columbia have fully vaccinated at least half of their adult populations.
These states are: Alaska, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Vermont, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin.
Vermont, Maine, and Connecticut have the highest rates – about 64 percent of adults in all three states are fully vaccinated. Massachusetts and Rhode Island have also fully vaccinated over 60 percent of their residents.
Meanwhile, six states – all in the South – have yet to fully vaccinate even 40 percent of their adult populations: Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee.
In Ohio, less than half of adults are fully vaccinated. A new million-dollar lottery for vaccinated Ohioans is pushing the number up – more people got shots after it was announced
Lotteries and other incentives encourage vaccination. Pictured: Jake Lawler, 29, gets his vaccine at a community center in Lima, Ohio, March 29
Ohio is one of those states that hasn’t yet hit the 50 percent mark, but the state is on its way there, thanks in part to a new initiative – the Vax-a-Million lottery.
‘Ohio Governor Mike DeWine has unlocked a secret,’ said Andy Slavitt, senior advisor on the White House COVID response team, at the press briefing.
‘People do care about getting vaccinated, but it turns out they have other things they care about too.’
In the lottery, one vaccinated Ohio resident will win one million dollars – once a week for the next five weeks.
The lottery has already seen great success: in the days after this program was announced, Ohio saw a 55 percent increase in its vaccination rate for adults ages 20 to 49.
In some counties, Slavitt said, ‘the rate of vaccination doubled compared to before the announcement.’
The first winner in Ohio’s lottery was pulled on Monday night pulled yesterday from a pool of nearly 2.8 million entries. This winning ticket will be announced tomorrow at 7.29pm on Wednesday.
In addition to the cash lottery, Ohio is also running a secondary program for vaccinated residents ages 12 to 17, who can win a full-ride college scholarship to any public school in the state. More than 100,000 teenagers have entered so far.
The Biden administration is encouraging other states to follow Ohio’s lead. Slavitt announced new guidance from the Treasury Department that tells states how to use federal funds to pay for vaccine incentive programs.
So far, Colorado, Maryland, New York and Oregon have announced lotteries similar to Ohio’s.
At one point in April, the U.S. was vaccinating three million people a day. Now, it’s closer to two million
Some companies are providing incentives, too. One now-famous example is the Krispy Kreme promotion – vaccinated customers can get free donuts.
United Airlines joined this trend on Tuesday. The airline launched a ticket sweepstakes with vaccinated Americans allowed to enter to win two roundtrip tickets, first-class, to anywhere in the world.
One ticket winner will be chosen every day in June. And on July 1, United will pick five grand-prize winners – they’ll get a free pass to flights anywhere in the world for a full year.
Initiatives like this are good at convincing the hesitant, as Ohio’s results have shown. A recent Harris Poll suggests that 57 percent of unvaccinated Americans support vaccine incentives, and 54 percent say they’ll be more likely to get a shot if there’s an extra bonus on the line.
Lotteries and other incentives won’t work for everyone, though. Some Americans want to get vaccinated but face access barriers – such as not being able to find an appointment that fits their work schedule.
Barriers like this have kept many black and Hispanic Americans from getting vaccinated. The Biden administration is also encouraging more walk-in vaccination options, mobile clinics, and other ways to make it easier to get a vaccine.
In New York City, for example, mobile vaccine buses will be parked at popular city beaches starting this weekend. The beaches include Coney Island and Far Rockaway – the latter has the lowest vaccination rate of any neighborhood in the city.
‘People may say this is frivolous,’ Slavitt said at the briefing. ‘I say, anything that ends the pandemic, we pull out now.’