Vaccine Lottery Having Little, If Any, Effect On Increasing Falling Vaccination Numbers

RALEIGH – Last week Governor Roy Cooper announced the State of North Carolina would launch a vaccination lottery to incentivize more people to get the shot. Adults getting the vaccine would be entered to win one of multiple awards of $1 million cash, and kids getting the shot will have a shot at one of four $125,000 scholarships.

In short, it’s what the cool kids were doing in other states, so Cooper followed along. But as we highlighted last week, the likelihood that such a profligate use of taxpayer money actually making a dent in vaccination numbers seems low on account of the nature of individuals’ reasons for not having had the shot.

Whether wary of vaccine risks, conscientious objection, simply recognizing one’s low risk for severe COVID, or actually having had COVID already (and the natural immunity that comes with it), it would seem reasonable to presume that a small chance in a lottery isn’t going to move the needle for such people.

And, several days into the lottery announcement, that seems to be the case.

Data from the COVID Dashboard of the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) shows that vaccination rates did not pick up last week, or over the weekend, after the lottery was announced. In fact, ‘First Doses Administered’ continued it’s slide.

After the lottery was announced, first doses still fell about another 10 percent from the last week in May (50,064). It’s too early this week to have solid data, but early indications are that there is no new rush of North Carolinians rushing to get vaccinated.

That’s because, simply put, virtually everyone who wanted a vaccine has gotten one. One can see why when examining a summary vaccination metrics in the state.

Who is the most vulnerable to COVID, broadly speaking? The older individuals.  Eight out of 10 of them are already fully vaccinated.

The rest of the ‘adult’ universe, a good portion of which is at no serious risk for severe COVID, is nearly 50 percent vaccinated.

Even half of kids over 12 years old, whose risk is virtually non-existent, are vaccinated.

What you have left are a very small population of vulnerable people over 65 years old, and then the bulk of non-vaccinated people who are also largely non-vulnerable people.

Maybe if the lottery was $1 billion, there would be a noticeable uptick in adults getting vaccinated. As it is, though, the vaccine lottery doesn’t appear to be moving the needle at all.

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