News

Ohio’s Vax-a-million starts Wednesday, students could win full rides to college

BY HALEY REEDY

Starting the week of May 24, the state of Ohio will begin drawing the first of five Ohioans to win the Vax-a-million lottery as well as a scholarship lottery for students between the ages of 12 to 17. Both lotteries will be pulled on Wednesday of each week for the next five weeks. 

“The Scholarship lottery includes a full four-year scholarship, including room and board, tuition and books at an Ohio State College or University,” Dan Tierney, Press Secretary for Governor Mike DeWine, said in an exclusive interview with the Bruin. 

104,386 Ohioans between the ages of 12 and 17 registered for the Vax-a-million scholarship lottery. By comparison, the chances of winning the Mega Millions lottery are 302,575,350 to 1.

“It’s all about how much vaccine and how quickly we can get it out to those who need it, and now the second part of it is how to encourage uptake and convince people to get the vaccine,” Tierney said. 

The age range for the scholarship lottery is 12-17 years old, meaning intermediate/middle school age students up to high school and some college students are included. 

“A common thing we’ve heard from them [high school and college students] is that they are waiting until finals are over or waiting for a certain thing to end, but the sooner we get people vaccinated the sooner they get protected,” said Tierney. 

This idea sprouted from the idea of incentivizing the vaccine.

“The governor and his team brainstormed and saw this idea as something novel, something worthwhile to try, and a way to incentivize people to get the vaccine,” said Tierney. 

While some argue that the money could be better spent or spent towards more advertising for the vaccine, Tierney and the Governor’s office disagree and say that you see more of an impact on the amount of people getting vaccinated when Ohioans see everyday people promoting the lottery and seeing people they know winning it. 

“The news media has covered it very widely, we think that we probably have gotten more coverage of it in TV, newspapers, magazines, local television and national television than we would have if we would have bought ad time on television stations,” said Tierney. 

Local media coverage gives promotion by word of mouth and advertisements without the Governor’s office having to spend a portion of the budget on ad time.

“We think that the early results have been successful, not only for the earned media but as far as getting the word out that you should get the vaccine but also the numbers as well,” Tierney said.

Since the announcement of the lottery on May 13, vaccination rates have increased by more than 28 percent in Ohioans aged 16 and older. 

“We were seeing a decline in uptake of the vaccine over the last three weeks, really over the last month and a half as the vaccine has been widely available to all eligible Ohioans by the end of March. Every day from Friday to Monday and Tuesday this week has been busiest Friday through Monday in the last three weeks,” Tierney said.

The Governor’s office’s logic is that as the Vax-a-million and scholarship lotteries are pulled, more and more people will want to receive the vaccine and the numbers of Ohioans getting vaccinated will spike.

“We saw a 6% increase in Ohioans age 30-74 who got the vaccine, so we’re definitely excited that this is happening around the time that Ohioans age 12-15 are eligible to get the vaccine, because right as they become eligible they have this incentive to get it right away,” Tierney said. 

Ohio is the first state to offer up large sums of money to incentivize the vaccine; however, other states may be looking to follow in Ohio’s footsteps. Alabama is offering free tickets to see the Birmingham Legion FC take on Memphis at Legion Field and the chance to cruise the Talladega Superspeedway, New York is offering free two-day passes to any New York park through September 30, 2021, and New Jersey is offering park passes, free glasses of wine at participating wineries and even dinner with Governor Murphy and First Lady Tammy Murphy. 

“We have received inquiries from other states as to what we’re doing, and we certainly understand how states want to see how our numbers are going, and we’ve had states reach out asking how we’re structuring it, asking details, what we’re doing, how we’re structuring the million dollars and how we’re structuring the scholarship,” Tierney said. 

The scholarship will adjust for inflation if a younger Ohioan wins the youth lottery since they would not be going to college for eight or so years versus a student who will be attending college next year. If students win the lottery, they can go to any college owned by Ohio State. This includes Ohio State, Kent State, Stark State, Bowling Green State University, Cincinnati University, The University of Akron and so forth.

The first scholarship drawing will be awarded this Wednesday, May 26.

VACCINE SPEAKOUT


Camden Matriano-Lim, Junior

Q: Why did you decide to get the vaccine?

A: “I have gotten the vaccine because I believe that it benefits everyone by protecting yourself and the community.”

Q: If you were to win the scholarship, where would you go?

A: “With the scholarship I would like to go to the Ohio State University because it’s been my dream to go there.”

Nathan Hays, Junior

Q:Do you plan to get the vaccine?

A: “I’m still undecided. Part of me wants to get it [the vaccine] so COVID can go away as a whole, but the other part of me is unsure of its side effects in the long run.”

Q: How do you feel about the COVID-19 restrictions loosening on the 2nd?

A: “I’m all for it. I don’t want to downplay the severity of COVID, but I don’t think the government has the power to require masks. I think it should be left up to the people and businesses.”

Brendon Roberts, Sophomore

Q: Why did you decide to get the vaccine?

A: “I actually just got my vaccine this past week and I did it because it can help me and others around me be safe.”

Q: If you were to win the scholarship, where would you go?

A: “I plan to enter the raffle as I already got it anyway. If I were to win I would go to Akron University as it is the one [college] I have been looking into the most.”

Jackson Chrislip, Junior

Q: Why did you decide to get the vaccine?

A: “I just felt like I had to [get the vaccine] for the better of society, so things can get back to normal faster.”

Q: If you were to win the scholarship, where would you go?

A: “If I got the money I would go to Ohio State, but if  I don’t win I’ll probably just go to Kent State.”

Mrs. Mathews, WHS Spanish Teacher

Q: Why did you decide to get the vaccine?

A: “I lost a cousin whom I dearly loved to COVID in January, who was younger than me and I have children and grandchildren who I want to see in the future.”

Q: Do you plan to enter the Vax-a-Million lottery?

A: “I don’t plan to enter, although I think it’s a great idea and a million dollars would be nice, but somebody else needs it more than I do and hopefully that person will actually be needing it.”

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