Across the country lotteries have become a popular way to encourage people to get vaccinated against COVID-19, but some local elected officials are skeptical the incentive will work to increase vaccination rates here.
Jefferson County announced Thursday it would use federal cares act money to fund a local lottery, drawing criticism on social media.
“We looked at the best possible outcomes for county residents using that money and part of that being to reward some of the folks that have followed through with getting the vaccines,” said Jefferson County Commissioner Kelly Simmelink.
That funding can only be spent to provide vaccination clinics, incentivize getting the shot, or provide transportation to a clinic.
“I think we stepped outside the box in looking at a way to keep the money local and to me that is very important,” Simmelink said.
The county will give away $10,000 to 11 lucky winners. Three of those $10,000 prizes will come in the form of Oregon College Savings Plan accounts for winners 18 and under.
Madras Mayor Richard Ladeby isn’t sure the incentive will work.
“I am skeptical of throwing money at this, people that are going to get the shot are going to get it,” he said.
As of Friday, the Oregon Health Authority reported about 49% of Jefferson County residents over 16 have been vaccinated.
“I am encouraged that we are trying to do everything we can, but I don’t know if that is going to convince everybody to get the shot. It’s been available now for quite a few months and I think those who are able and wanting to get it will go get it,” Ladeby said.
Ladeby says he has not received the COVID vaccine and does not plan to because of medical reasons.
“That is my personal choice and those who want it, by all means, please get it and if you have some reasons that you don’t want to get it or you can’t take it then that is between you and your physician,” he said.
In Ohio, a vaccine lottery appears to have increased that state’s vaccination rate by 28%.
Deschutes County received over $1 million from the CARES Act, Crook County received just over $218,000.
Officials in those counties tell me they haven’t decided how they’ll spend the money.
To be eligible for Oregon’s $1 million giveaway or any of the county’s $10,000 prizes you need to have at least one dose of the shot by midnight on June 27th.