A new study examining the effectiveness of $1 million prizes to encourage vaccinations against COVID-19 suggests the lotteries conducted in several states was a complete waste of taxpayer money.
The study from the Boston University School of Medicine looked at Ohio’s vaccine lottery, which failed to increase vaccination rates in a statistically significant manner compared to states that did not have such a lottery.
Like Ohio, Colorado also failed to meaningfully increase vaccination rates after Gov. Polis launched the program in June.
According to CBS Denver, healthcare experts say these taxpayer funds would have been better spent addressing the underlying hesitancy some individuals have about getting vaccinated.
I want to share some of our work, hot off the press @JAMAcurrent: Lottery-Based Incentive in Ohio and COVID-19 Vaccination Rates https://t.co/rnsAtZOdlP
— Anica Law, MD MS (@anicalaw) July 2, 2021
Polis launched Colorado’s vaccine lottery with the dystopian reference to the Hunger Games.
He then quoted the movie “The Hunger Games,” though he intended the quote in a more positive way than the dystopian, fight-to-the-death film.
“May the odds be forever in your favor, Colorado,” he said.
To Polis’s credit, the vaccine lottery turned out to be a lot like the Hunger Games in one important way: the odds are not actually in your favor.
That’s a problem according to some experts.
“Think for yourself, would you prefer I hand you a hundred dollars or I give you a 50% chance at $200”,” said Lighthall. In both cases, the expected value, the average amount that a person would get, is a hundred dollars. But in “the risky case,” she said, the lottery case, you could walk away with nothing at all. “And people don’t like that. They prefer to win. They prefer a sure amount of money. And for people who really need money, why should they prefer a lottery over a fair amount that could actually pay their bills?”
Some public health professionals believe Colorado would have been better served to grant $100 savings bonds to younger individuals who got vaccinated, like they are doing in West Virginia.
Regardless, at this point it’s safe to say we can now chalk Colorado’s vaccine lottery up to another wasteful taxpayer funded boondoggle – all courtesy of Gov. Polis.