Michigan's taxpayer-fueled COVID-19 lottery fails

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click to enlarge Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced a vaccine lottery with a goal to increase COVID-19 vaccinations by 9% — by July 30, Mich. only had a 2% increase. - Photo via screenshot of state health department's live stream, July 1, 2021
Photo via screenshot of state health department's live stream, July 1, 2021
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced a vaccine lottery with a goal to increase COVID-19 vaccinations by 9% — by July 30, Mich. only had a 2% increase.

When Gov. Gretchen Whitmer placed a $5 million bet on a COVID-19 vaccine lottery, the goal was to increase Michigan’s vaccination rate by 9 percentage points – from 61.8% to break 70% by August 3.

Michigan stands at 63.5% as of July 30, having spent about $5 million for what appears less than a 2 percentage point increase, depending on weekend injection numbers.

The nonpartisan Senate Fiscal Agency estimates Michigan won’t reach 70% (injecting an additional 524,600 vaccines) until Nov. 13, 2021, at a pace of 4,900 injections daily. Whitmer initially set that benchmark as the finish line to dropping COVID-19 restrictions.

Vaccination rates might slightly climb due to employer and college vaccination requirements. Michigan State University and the University of Michigan, along with several health care providers, announced mandatory vaccinations last week.

A Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) study published in the Journal of American Medical Association network concluded Ohio’s first-in-the-nation vaccine lottery failed.

“Prior evaluations of the Ohio vaccine incentive lottery did not account for other changes in Covid-19 vaccination rates in the United States, such as those that may have been due to expansion of vaccination to ages 12-15," Allan J. Walkey, MD, senior author of the study and professor of medicine and physician at BUSM, said in a statement.

However, Michigan continued its lottery despite negative lottery results in Ohio.

“Our results suggest that state-based lotteries are of limited value in increasing vaccine uptake,” Walkey said. “Therefore, the resources devoted to vaccine lotteries may be more successfully invested in programs that target underlying reasons for vaccine hesitancy and low vaccine uptake.”

Originally published August 2, 2021 on The Center Square. It is republished here with permission.

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