Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine announced the “Vax-a-Million” initiative Wednesday in which five adult residents will be eligible to receive $1 million each, and five teens could be in play for a full scholarship, if they are vaccinated, The Columbus Dispatch reports.
This announcement comes on the heels of his declaration that Ohio’s mask mandate will be lifted on June 2. DeWine explained that he reached this decision after seeing four weeks of declining numbers in COVID-19-related infections and hospitalizations, in conjunction with the increasing availability of the vaccine, which was recently expanded by the FDA to cover kids ages 12 to 15.
“The vaccine is here. It’s stronger and better than medical experts ever imagined,” DeWine said. “Everyone can now control their own health. Everyone can now control their own destiny.”
About 4.88 million people in Ohio have received at least the first dose of the vaccine. However, the U.S. Census estimates that, in 2019, the state population was over 11.6 million. Studies show that in the first week of April, the state reached its peak of nearly 500,000 Ohioans receiving the shot. Since then, that number has dropped by 80 percent.
DeWine is taking a page from the playbook of West Virginia, which dangled a $100 savings bond to any vaccinated resident between the ages of 16 and 25. States, like New Jersey and Maine, got a little more creative with the former offering a free beer for anyone over 21 who received the shot, and the latter attempting to incentivize the vaccinated with free hunting or fishing licenses, and LL Bean gift cards.
Drawings for “Vax-a-Million” will be held for five consecutive Wednesdays, starting on May 26. Names will be drawn from the Ohio Secretary of State’s voter registration database. Students 12-17 will be able to sign up to get entered in the scholarship lottery starting May 18. The scholarship will cover tuition, books, and room-and-board.