by J.D. Davidson
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine plans to double down on an incentive program to encourage more Ohioans to receive a COVID-19 vaccine as cases are on the rise in the Buckeye State.
Speaking to reporters at a ribbon cutting celebrating the completion of a highway project in Columbus, DeWine said he expects to announce a new program soon in an effort boost the state’s vaccination percentage, which ranks as one of the lowest in the nation.
Ohio ranks 35th among states in its share of people receiving at least one vaccine shot with 48.7% of the state population partially vaccinated.
“We’re really living with two different groups of people – one group of people who have been vaccinated, who are safe. And we have a group of people who have not been vaccinated, and they’re not safe. And that’s frankly what I worry about,” DeWine said while talking with reporters, the Columbus Dispatch reported.
DeWine led the vaccine incentive efforts earlier this year when he began the state’s Vax-a-Million lottery program, which gave away $5 million of federal tax dollars to five $1 million winners, along with five full college scholarships.
That program showed an initial boost in vaccinations but a recent study said the program did little to increase overall vaccine numbers in the state.
The study, conducted by the Boston University School of Medicine using information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, concluded reports that the state’s Vax-a-Million lottery program increased rates failed to factor in vaccinations expanded to ages 12-15.
State officials had said vaccination rates received a boost when the lottery was announced. The study, however, said the boost came from expanding age groups eligible for the vaccine.
“Our results suggest that state-based lotteries are of limited value in increasing vaccine uptake. Therefore, the resources devoted to vaccine lotteries may be more successfully invested in programs that target underlying reasons for vaccine hesitancy and low vaccine uptake,” said Dr. Allan Walkey, professor of medicine at Boston University and the report’s author.
Ohio COVID-19 cases grew nearly 25% for the week ending Sunday with 1,978 new cases reported. That’s up nearly 400 from the week before. The rate was lower than the national rate of 47.5%.
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An Ohio native, J.D. Davidson is a veteran journalist with more than 30 years of experience in newspapers in Ohio, Georgia, Alabama and Texas. He has served as a reporter, editor, managing editor and publisher. He is regional editor for The Center Square.