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Ohio Vax-A-Million Lottery Now Opt-In Program

Ohio's Vax-a-Million drawing is being overseen by the Ohio Department of Health and the Ohio Lottery Commission.
Details of Ohio's Vax-a-Million website and call-in line shared during a Monday press conference.

Updated: 5:25 p.m., Monday, May 17, 2021

Ohioans will now have to opt in to be entered in Ohio's vaccination lottery program, where five scholarships and five $1 million prizes will be awarded to those who have received at least one shot.

“Using the opt-in questionnaire will allow ODH (Ohio Department of Health) to verify the eligibility and vaccinations of participants much more quickly,” said Ohio Department of Health Director Stephanie McCloud. “In the opt in, we're asking participants to provide contact information…Using only opt-in registrations obviously also greatly increases the chances that someone who is eligible and vaccinated will be drawn as the winner since they have represented that to us during the opt-in process.”

After consulting with the Ohio Lottery and other experts, the opt-in program was the most efficient, McCloud said.

“If there's someone who, for whatever reason, may not want to participate, we didn't have to focus on an opt-out process,” she said. “So, by having opt-in, we know we have the contact information where they would like to be contacted and we can do so quickly.”

McCloud said the lottery program appears to be having the desired affect.

“This past Friday was our highest vaccine administration day in three weeks, since April 23,” McCloud said, adding that the state does not believe more public service announcement campaigns would have drawn this kind of attention to the vaccine. “We had 25,414 shots administered…People who were ages 30-74, we were experiencing a 24 percent decrease week over week for those prior two Fridays. Last Friday, that age group saw a six percent increase.”

There have been many critics of the lottery plan, including state lawmakers. Governor Mike DeWine said during a briefing Monday that the criticism doesn't faze him.

“We think this will make a difference and then to turn away from it and say 'Oh no, you can't do that because there will be people criticizing you.' I've had people criticize me for 14 months,” DeWine said. “It's ok.”

He said he considered the reaction such a plan might evoke, but that didn't affect his decision.

“Did I expect there to be criticism of this drawing that we're doing? Sure, it's not been done before,” DeWine said. “It's unusual, but these are unusual times. These are unusual times and I think we have to be bold.”

The website to register for the lottery, ohiovaxamillion.com, will be live Tuesday morning. Phone registration is also available at 1-833-4 ASK ODH (1-833-427-5634)

“One sign up is good for the entire five rounds and remember, any Ohio resident, regardless of where you got your vaccination, is eligible,” said Ohio Lottery Director Pat McDonald.

Residents must receive at least one vaccine dose on the Sunday before Monday's drawing to be eligible. The winner will be announced on Wednesdays at 7:30 p.m.

The lottery will run for five weeks.

Winners cannot remain anonymous. Tax laws apply, and room and board taxes may be applicable for the scholarship prize.

The state is looking into the possibility of transferring the scholarship amount, designed to be tuition for the most expensive public university in Ohio, to tuition for a private school in the state.

Glenn Forbes is supervising producer of newscasts at Ideastream Public Media.