Vaccination rates took a downturn after the $1 million lottery announcement weeks ago
By Kate Northrop
The State of Oregon is looking for new ways to motivate residents to get a COVID-19 vaccine after vaccination rates went the wrong direction following the announcement of the state's $1 million vaccine lottery.
Nearly three weeks ago, Governor Kate Brown held a press conference to reveal the "Take Your Shot Oregon" campaign, intended to motivate the public to get inoculated against COVID-19. While other states have reported success with similar promotions, vaccination rates for Oregon have fallen.
Oregon was one of many states to implement a vaccine lottery after Ohio announced a lottery as an incentive to get vaccinated. Others have tried similar approaches, such as New Jersey, which worked with local restaurants to offer free beer to vaccinated individuals, or even West Virginia, which offered a variety of prizes including cash, trucks, weekend getaways, scholarships, and guns.
The "Take Your Shot Oregon" lottery is open to all residents 18 and older who have had at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose by June 27 for a drawing to be held on June 28. The drawing will award one resident the $1 million grand prize and 36 others with $10,000. Additionally, the state will hold a special drawing for children ages 12 to 17, five of whom will win a $100,000 contribution to an Oregon College Savings Plan account in their names.
With three weeks left until the drawing takes place and lower vaccination rates than expected, the government is trying to find alternative measures to create more anticipation for the vaccine lottery.
The Governor's office is reportedly "exploring options for drawings earlier in the month to continue to generate excitement throughout the next several weeks," Charles Boyle, a Governor's spokesman, told The Oregonian. Some are speculating that Brown will add more prizes to the drawing, but she has not yet confirmed any details.
"We have more surprises in the works that you'll hear about soon," Brown teased. "So if you haven't yet been vaccinated, now is the time. You never know, you may just walk into a vaccine clinic or a pharmacy to get your vaccine and find out you're a winner."
According to the Ohio Department of Health, just one week after Ohio Governor Mike DeWine announced the "Vax-a-Million" campaign, the state saw a 28% increase in vaccinations rates among residents 16 and older. For perspective, there was a 25% decrease in vaccination rates during the weekend before the announcement took place.
The success of Ohio's campaign compared to Oregon could have something to do with the way names are drawn in their respective lotteries. Since Ohio is not drawing names from a pool of vaccinated residents, it is possible that an unvaccinated individual could be selected. That means that the state will draw a new name until a vaccinated winner is selected. The potential for winning $1 million — and losing that money just as quickly — could have added to the urgency of getting a vaccine in time for the drawings. Such cannot be said for the State of Oregon, which is drawing names from a pool of vaccinated individuals only.
The other factor in declining vaccination rates could be the time between the lottery announcement and the drawing. A five-week period allows plenty of time for a resident to get vaccinated, but it is also possible that it reduces the pressure to get a shot as quickly as possible.
"The 'Take Your Shot Oregon' campaign was designed for simplicity so that there would be a significant period of time to incentivize vaccinations prior to June 28," Boyle explained. He followed up by saying that the lottery is only one of many strategies in its repertoire to increase vaccinations.
"No individual strategy is expected to have a singularly massive impact or to wholly reverse vaccination rate trends," Boyle continued. "Each strategy adds a little energy to the overall effort."
Figures from the Oregon Health Authority show that, during mid-last week compared to the when Brown announced the lottery, the daily total number of people who got a vaccine, including those receiving a second dose, has effectively been halved from about 36,000 to nearly 18,000.
Oregon Health Authority CFO David Baden said that, although vaccination rates have fallen, some data suggests that the lottery campaign might still be doing some good since the state's vaccination rates are decelerating slower than others.
However, there are still weeks left until the drawing takes place, therefore it is hard to say for sure whether Oregon's vaccine lottery will fall short or prove successful.
"The simple answer is, 'I don't know,' because we don't ask everyone who comes in, 'Why do you get vaccinated?'" Baden concluded.