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Washington Post: A hundred bucks or a chance at $1 million: What’s the better vaccine incentive?

By CHIBE Director Kevin Volpp, MD, PhD, for The Washington Post

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine’s announcement last week that his state would use a lottery to persuade more people to get vaccinated breaks new ground in the struggle to reach the vaccine hesitant. Starting May 26, five people will take home $1 million over five consecutive weeks; anyone with at least one shot will be eligible. What’s more, five vaccinated Ohioans under the age of 18 will get a four-year college scholarship, doled out in a parallel drawing.

DeWine (R) is eager to open his state — he’s dropping almost all restrictions on June 2 — and has settled on a psychologically interesting approach to get shots into arms, one that is likely to have more of an impact than programs that are offering free drinks to vaccinated residents, or West Virginia’s $100 gift cards or savings bonds for people ages 18 to 34.

Some of the attractions of lotteries are familiar — who wouldn’t be intrigued by the possibility of winning $1 million? — but they also take advantage of human psychological quirks. Lotteries are tremendously popular because people tend to focus on the magnitude of the awards and overestimate the small probability that they will win — near zero, in some cases. Since about 5 million people have been vaccinated in Ohio at this point, the odds of winning are already quite small (roughly 1 in a million over the five weeks — with the chances going down as more people get shots). Still, it is likely that by now nearly everyone in Ohio knows the size of the reward that’s being handed out.

Read the whole article here on The Washington Post.

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