If you had the chance to win cash or prizes in a lottery, would you be more likely to get vaccinated against COVID-19? According to researchers at Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM), the answer was surprising. They found that Ohio's lottery-based incentive system "Vaxa-Million", which was designed to increase COVID-19 vaccine rates, did not correlate with an increase in COVD-19 vaccines.
According to media reports, the Ohio lottery had increased COVID-19 vaccinations. This led other states to start using COVID-19 vaccine incentive lotteries to try to boost slowing down vaccination rates. According to Allan J. Walkey (MBSc), the corresponding author, "The Ohio vaccine incentive lottery's prior evaluations did not take into account other changes in COVID-19 vaccinations rates in the United States such as those due to the expansion of vaccination to ages 12--15," said Allan J. Walkey.
The researchers compared vaccination rates in Ohio before and after the lottery using data from the U.S. Centers of Disease Control. They also compared them with other states that didn't have vaccine incentive lottery programs. The researchers used other states' vaccination rates as a "control", allowing them to adjust for factors beyond the Ohio lottery (such as expanding vaccine eligibility to teenagers).
"Our findings suggest that state-based lottery systems are not of much value in increasing vaccine use." Walkey, a Boston Medical Center physician, stated that vaccine lotteries are not likely to be as successful in increasing vaccine uptake.
Researchers believe that identifying effective interventions to increase COVID-19 vaccine rates is critical public health concern necessary to stop the pandemic. Walkey stated that it is crucial to evaluate all strategies to increase vaccine uptake and to quickly deploy the most effective strategies. Then, phase out those that don't work.
Walkey and his coworkers were disappointed to discover that the state lottery incentives did not correlate with increased COVID-19 vaccines. However, they hope that their findings will encourage others to study other programs that might more effectively increase vaccine uptake.
These findings are published online by the Journal of the American Medical Association.
Allan J Walkey was supported by NIH OT2HL156812-01, NIH HL136761, NIH NIH HL136660, NIH HL01HL1366651, NIH NIH HL1366661, NIH NIH HL1366651 and NIH NIH NIH HL1366661. Anica C Law was supported by NIH K23HL153482. Nicholas A Bosch was supported by NIH 1F32GM133061-01.