Ohio Republican Wants To Stop Vax-A-Million Lottery Because It’s Too Awesome

coronavirus

The Biden administration announced Tuesday that half the country's adults — almost 130 million people — are now fully vaccinated against COVID-19. It's a significant achievement, as that number was just a piddly one percent when President Joe Biden took office on January 20. Close to five million adolescents have also received at least one dose of Bill Gates's tracking devices.

Biden's stated goal was to administer at least one dose to 70 percent of US adults by the Fourth of July, which the administration seems on track to meet. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, another 70 million vaccine doses are keyed up for distribution.

A more normal life is in sight, but the country needs to continue its vaccination push. As Andy Slavitt, a White House senior adviser on the COVID-19 response, said during yesterday's briefing, "Unless you're vaccinated, you're at risk."

Americans are a kooky bunch, though, and it turns out that protection against a deadly virus isn't sufficient motivation for some people to get vaccinated. States, businesses, and organizations are offering more compelling incentives, such as free doughnuts and airline flights. Ohio launched a program called Ohio Vax-a-Million, which enters people who receive vaccines into a $1 million lottery.


"Gov. Mike DeWine has unlocked a secret," Slavitt said, noting that Ohio's vaccination rate went up 55% among young adults in the days after unveiling the program. Other states have since announced similar plans.

The odds of winning one of the five lottery drawings are about 1 in 2.7 million. The odds of being struck by lightning in a given year are 1 in 1.2 million. The first lucky winner (of the lottery not a lightning strike) will be announced tonight.

Despite the corresponding surge in vaccination rates, the Ohio Vax-a-Million-a-GoGo (I added the “a-gogo") has received criticism from both Democrats and Republicans. Lotteries truly bring people together.

Ohio House Minority Leader Emily Strong Sykes, a Democrat from Akron, slammed the lottery as a waste of taxpayer dollars.

SYKES: As elected leaders, we're obligated to take seriously our duty to be good stewards of taxpayer dollars. Using millions of dollars in relief funds in a drawing is a grave misuse of money that could be going to respond to this ongoing crisis. Ohioans deserve better than this. I do hope people continue to get the vaccine and help our state reach herd immunity so our economy and way of life can thrive again.

Sykes can only offer a vague hope that Ohioans will do the right thing. DeWine is offering a statistically insignificant shot at real money!

Republican state Rep. Jena Powell introduced legislation last week with an emergency clause that would "prevent the COVID-19 vaccination lottery from taking place." She's proposed redirecting the funding for the lottery to either children's mental health initiatives or small business relief grants. That's not the worst idea, but if you probe a little deeper, you'll find that Powell is a big time anti-vaxxer who supports the Vaccine Choice and Anti-Discrimination Act. The act would prevent "all entities in the state of Ohio from discriminatory treatment of citizens based on their vaccination status."

Powell thinks vaccines are a “personal medical choice," but she opposes any efforts that would encourage people to get vaccinated. She was especially annoying during the height of the pandemic last year, repeatedly criticizing DeWine's management of the crisis and insisting that any steps he took to prevent the virus from spreading was depriving Ohioans of their freedom.

She whined about masks and social distancing and actively undermined the state health department's messaging, all while the virus spread mostly unchecked in Darke County, which she represents along with Miami County. Both Darke and Miami are bringing up the rear in the statewide vaccination rate.

Powell declared in a Facebook post denouncing the Ohio Vax-a-Million that “Ohioans don't want giveaways to mask (DeWine's) horrible policy. They want freedom." Jesus, what is with these idiots and FREEDOM! It's like the end of Braveheart is constantly playing on a loop in their heads.

As of May 24, 2,758,470 Ohioans registered for the $1 million drawing, so they seem good with DeWine's “giveaways." And Ohio achieving herd immunity is the surest way for residents to fully enjoy their “freedom," regardless of what dolts like Powell might say.

[NPR / Cincinnati Enquirer]

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Stephen Robinson

Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He writes reviews for the A.V. Club and make believe for Cafe Nordo, an immersive theatre space in Seattle. He's also on the board of the Portland Playhouse theatre. His son describes him as a “play typer guy."

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