09 July 2021

Vaccine Lotteries

Welcome back. Do you live in a state that’s running a lottery to give COVID-19 vaccinations a shot in the arm? Is your state one of those offering a million-dollar jackpot?

Having faith in statistics, I normally ignore state lotteries. But every vaccine lottery will have a winner, and the million-dollar prize won’t entice all anti-vaxxers, COVID-19 unbelievers, those fearing side effects or needles or distrusting the vaccines or government or lacking access or believing any of many conspiracy theories or who knows what else. As such, these lotteries will have a smaller pool of “players” and much better odds--except in states where eligibility extends to those already vaccinated.

Statistics and cash incentives aside, I think million-dollar jackpots are -- how shall I put it? -- absolutely nuts! Although they’ll surely attract more attention than Indiana’s box of Girl Scout cookies for getting a shot, there must be better ways to use that kind of money to promote vaccinations.

A recent study by researchers with the Boston University School of Medicine showed it's more than my opinion.

Announcement of Ohio’s Vax-a-Million lottery (fox8.com/news/coronavirus/ohio-vaccine-lottery/ohio-vaccine-lottery-who-is-eligible-for-the-weekly-1-million-scholarship-prizes-and-what-do-they-need-to-do/).
Ohio Vaccine Lottery
Ohio was the first state to announce a cash lottery. Its "Vax-a-Million" lottery initially seemed to produce the needed incentive, and several other states followed suit with their own million-dollar jackpots--alphabetically, California, Colorado, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Washington and West Virginia.

Unfortunately for those states and vaccination incentives, the Boston University researchers dug a bit. They analyzed trends in CDC data on vaccination rates, comparing Ohio against states that did not yet have vaccine incentive lottery programs. They focused on vaccination rates both before and after the Ohio lottery. The vaccination rates in other states thus provided a reference or control for trends in Ohio, allowing the researchers to account for factors besides the Ohio lottery.

They found that the initial evaluations of the Ohio lottery had failed to account for other changes in the U.S. vaccination rate. Most notable was the expansion of vaccinations to those ages 12 to 15.

Wrap Up
The study findings suggest that vaccine lotteries, even those with million-dollar jackpots, are of limited value for increasing vaccine uptake.

Pointing to the critical importance of increasing COVID-19 vaccination rates, the researchers emphasize that strategies to increase vaccine uptake must be rigorously evaluated. Those judged successful should be rapidly employed.

No doubt you’ve been vaccinated, but best of luck if your state has a lottery and you're still eligible. And thanks for stopping by.

Study of vaccine lotteries in Journal of the American Medical Association: jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/article-abstract/2781792
Article on study on EurekAlert! website: www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2021-07/buso-lid070221.php
Forbes article on groups still refusing COVID-19 vaccine: www.forbes.com/sites/alisondurkee/2021/06/11/here-are-the-biggest-groups-that-are-still-refusing-the-covid-19-vaccine-poll-finds/?sh=28a0066d42cc
The New York Times article on state vaccine lotteries: www.nytimes.com/2021/07/03/world/covid-vaccine-lottery.html

No comments:

Post a Comment