I'm all for palm trees, but we can't go slashing down rain forests and killing tigers just because we want more shampoo.
In an attempt to get more residents to get vaccinated against COVID-19, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine has announced a truly unexpected incentive program.
"Two weeks from tonight on May 26th," DeWine wrote on Twitter yesterday, "we will announce a winner of a separate drawing for adults who have received at least their first dose of the vaccine. This announcement will occur each Wednesday for five weeks, and the winner each Wednesday will receive one million dollars."
That's right. Five people in Ohio who have received at least their first vaccine dose will receive $1 million.
Two weeks from tonight on May 26th, we will announce a winner of a separate drawing for adults who have received at… https://t.co/GzLKM22WmC— Governor Mike DeWine (@Governor Mike DeWine) 1620856014.0
DeWine explained that the names will be drawn from Ohio's voter registration base, and people can also sign up for the drawings on a website to be made available soon. The drawings will be conducted by the Ohio Lottery.
The governor also noted that the $5 million would come from federal Coronavirus Relief Funds that the state has on hand.
The Ohio Department of Health will be the sponsoring agency for the drawings, and the Ohio Lottery will conduct the… https://t.co/MiIw3bMwrw— Governor Mike DeWine (@Governor Mike DeWine) 1620856094.0
A few rules apply: You have to be 18 years or older, an Ohio resident, and have gotten your first vaccine dose before the drawing.
"I know that some may say, 'DeWine, you're crazy! This million-dollar drawing idea of yours is a waste of money,'" the governor wrote. "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."
I know that some may say, “DeWine, you’re crazy! This million-dollar drawing idea of yours is a waste of money.”… https://t.co/KmA0D9yJll— Governor Mike DeWine (@Governor Mike DeWine) 1620856095.0
The reactions to the news were predictably all over the place. Some people are hardcore anti-vaccination and won't be swayed by such an incentive, but for those on the fence or who just haven't gotten around to making an appointment, perhaps the notion of winning a million dollars will push them to do it. If nothing else, it's a pretty sweet reward for those who are participating in this important public health measure to end the pandemic.
Some people are questioning whether or not a lottery with big prizes for a handful of people is really the most efficient use of COVID relief funds. Certainly it seems like it could be more effective than putting up posters or making public service announcements, but is it better than using the money to provide easier access to communities where access is more limited? Time will tell.
@JahD1191 @GovMikeDeWine Would you rather give it to advertising companies to produce ineffective PSAs? If this in… https://t.co/XwCb9ai9dI— Tim (@Tim) 1620858246.0
Some have pointed out that the odds of winning this lottery are much better than the odds of winning the normal state lottery, without even having to buy a lottery ticket. Those odds might incentivize people to get to the clinic—which is a little ironic considering the folks who are afraid to get vaccinated but aren't afraid of COVID may not have the best understanding of odds in the first place.
@GovMikeDeWine To all you “do they think people are this dumb?” folks... the odds of winning the lottery are 1 in 1… https://t.co/8JpGihMjZB— JohnnyCupcake (@JohnnyCupcake) 1620859113.0
@phillipjfry3021 @GovMikeDeWine Seriously! I am so impressed. I think it is hitting the correct target population too— Bore me Mr. President (@Bore me Mr. President) 1620857330.0
It also might help that the push is coming from Ohio's GOP governor, since the largest demographic of vaccine hesitancy is particularly high among people with conservative leanings. The fact that a conservative politician is willing to spend money to spend taxpayer funds to incentivize getting vaccinated sends a message about how important it is.
Polling backs up the idea as well. A survey from Morning Consult found that 3 out of 5 unvaccinated adults say a big financial incentive would sway them to get the COVID-19 shot. Hard to say if a chance of a big payout would do the same, but considering people's penchant for playing the lottery, it's worth a shot.
We'll see if the gamble pays off in the coming weeks, but kudos to Ohio leadership for doing something creative to try to increase vaccination rates. The more people we get immunized, the closer we will be to ending the pandemic and returning to some semblance of normalcy.
The global eradication of smallpox in 1980 is one of international public health's greatest successes. But in 1966, seven years after the World Health Organization announced a plan to rid the world of the disease, smallpox was still widespread. The culprits? A lack of funds, personnel and vaccine supply.
Meanwhile, outbreaks across South America, Africa, and Asia continued, as the highly contagious virus continued to kill three out of every 10 people who caught it, while leaving many survivors disfigured. It took a renewed commitment of resources from wealthy nations to fulfill the promise made in 1959.
Forty-one years later, although we face a different virus, the potential for vast destruction is just as great, and the challenges of funding, personnel and supply are still with us, along with last-mile distribution. Today, while 30% of the U.S. population is fully vaccinated, with numbers rising every day, there is an overwhelming gap between wealthy countries and the rest of the world. It's becoming evident that the impact on the countries getting left behind will eventually boomerang back to affect us all.
Photo by ismail mohamed - SoviLe on Unsplash
The international nonprofit
CARE recently released a policy paper that lays out the case for U.S. investment in a worldwide vaccination campaign. Founded 75 years ago, CARE works in over 100 countries and reaches more than 90 million people around the world through multiple humanitarian aid programs. Of note is the organization's worldwide reputation for its unshakeable commitment to the dignity of people; they're known for working hand-in-hand with communities and hold themselves to a high standard of accountability.
"As we enter into our second year of living with COVID-19, it has become painfully clear that the safety of any person depends on the global community's ability to protect every person," says Michelle Nunn, CARE USA's president and CEO. "While wealthy nations have begun inoculating their populations, new devastatingly lethal variants of the virus continue to emerge in countries like India, South Africa and Brazil. If vaccinations don't effectively reach lower-income countries now, the long-term impact of COVID-19 will be catastrophic."
Nunn believes a comprehensive vaccination program needs to be sufficiently funded to not only acquire enough vaccines to inoculate people who may be missed otherwise, but also to ensure transportation, delivery, and administration of the vaccines. For every $1 in supply, $5 is required for delivery costs, she says.
"2021 finds us at a crossroads. One road leads from pandemic to endemic – and what some may see as 'acceptable apathy' where the lives of the vulnerable in low-income countries are deemed less valuable... "The other road is built on understanding the true cost of vaccines and the human cost of failing to deliver vaccines to the most vulnerable, and a joint commitment by all who walk it together to equity, equality, and human dignity. Our destination is a place where each of us is safe because all of us are safe," says Nunn.
The best interests of everyone on the planet are served by an investment in comprehensive global vaccination. For 75 years, CARE has been doing lifesaving work in the global community—and while the fight against Covid is far from over, the organization invites everyone to commemorate just how far we've come.
On Tuesday, May 11, CARE will host An Evening With CARE with Whoopi Goldberg and attended by former Presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and Jimmy Carter, as well as Angela Merkel, Iman, Jewel, Michelle Williams, Katherine McPhee-Foster, Betty Who and others, to mark the 75th anniversary of this amazing organization and take stock of the work that lies ahead. Please RSVP now for this can't-miss opportunity.