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Lottery incentives haven’t really prompted consumers to get a COVID-19 vaccine, study finds

Researchers say officials should consider other methods of improving vaccination rates

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Photo (c) Natalia Garmasheva - Getty Images
Since the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine, some states have rolled out lotteries as a way to incentivize people to get inoculated. Now, a new study conducted by researchers from Boston University School of Medicine found that these lottery-based incentive systems may not be effective at boosting vaccination rates. 

“Our results suggest that state-based lotteries are of limited value in increasing vaccine uptake,” said researcher Dr. Allan J. Walkey. “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.” 

Considering other strategies to improve vaccine rates

The researchers based their study on an Ohio program that was enrolling vaccinated consumers into a contest to win prizes and cash. The team compared vaccination rates across the state both before and after the lottery program started with vaccination rates in states that didn’t institute these kinds of rewards systems to determine how effective they were at boosting vaccination rates. 

Ultimately, the researchers found that lottery incentives didn’t work to increase vaccination rates. The researchers learned that the chance to win as much as $1 million didn’t increase the number of vaccines across the state of Ohio; instead, there was little difference in vaccination rates between Ohio residents and those in other states. Moving forward, the team hopes public health officials begin using other types of incentives to pump up vaccination numbers. 

“It is important to rigorously evaluate strategies designed to increase vaccine uptake, rapidly deploy successful strategies, and phase out those that do not work,” Dr. Walkey said. 

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