Vaccine lotteries don’t work, University of Denver study finds

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Posted: Oct 18, 2021, 8:59 a.m.

Last updated on: October 18, 2021, 9:11 a.m.

States that have invested federal coronavirus funds in so-called “vaccine lotteries” may have wasted their time and money, according to a new study.

vaccine lottery
A needle is primed to deliver a shot against COVID-19. But lotteries do not seem to motivate those hesitating about vaccination. (Photo: Patrick Fallon / Getty)

Research released by the University of Denver on Friday suggests that vaccine lotteries just don’t work. It may be that direct cash payments and information campaigns are a much better way to get people to get vaccinated.

Scratch and Vax

States began adopting lotteries from May 2021 as vaccination rates began to stabilize. Ohio got the ball rolling with its “Vax-a-Million” campaign, while New York even launched a “Scratch and Vax” program, offering free scratch tickets to newly vaccinated people. All for nothing, according to the University of Denver.

The study looked at the 19 states that introduced raffles to encourage their populations to get vaccinated. The researchers calculated the number of strokes administered per 1,000 people, before and after the introduction of lotteries. Then they compared the numbers to those in states without a vaccine lottery.

Adjusting for a variety of factors, such as a region’s wealth, population, number of COVID-19 cases, and political trends, the researchers found “no statistically significant difference” between states with and without lotteries.

Everything in the vein?

Andrew I. Friedson is associate professor of economics at the University of Colorado at Denver and one of the authors of the report. He speculates that there could be several reasons for the ineffectiveness of vaccine lotteries.

People may not be motivated by the lack of a guaranteed outcome in a lottery draw, suggesting that direct payments would be more effective. This could be especially true when people are worried about vaccines because they have been exposed to misinformation.

[Lottery] the designs were by no means an informative vaccine promotion strategy, ”Friedson wrote. “It is quite possible that spending money on clear and comprehensive messages about immunization would have been much more effective, such as awareness campaigns or more aggressive countermeasures against disinformation. “

“Everyone wanted it to work, but you have to check it out,” Friedson said later. Bloomberg. “The way the evidence has accumulated, it seems there are better ways to spend our money.”

There is no comparable study that examines the effectiveness of out-of-pocket payments as a motivator for vaccination. Corn Forbes notes that in September, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio touted his $ 100 vaccination reward program as the catalyst for a 40% increase in the number of people getting vaccinated. However, a similar initiative in West Virginia failed to advance the needle.


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