Would vaccine lottery gimmick work in Michigan? Ohio reports vaccine surge

Michigan State University graduate Abbigail Bugenske lives in southwestern Ohio and is the first to win the Vax-A-Million lottery.  She is one of five people who will take home a million dollars over the next month for getting their covid shots.

"I was completely surprised when I got the call and I still can’t believe it," she said. "I was screaming enough that my parents thought that I was crying.  When I started yelling I won a million dollars and I was going to be a millionaire, they told me to calm down - and make sure it wasn’t a prank before I really started freaking out."

So far stats suggest the idea works. According to data from Ohio, the number of people who received their first dose jumped 33 percent the week after the lottery announcement.

"I guess hesitancy has a price tag and it’s a million dollars," said Charlie Colony.

Colony is a Toledo native who now lives in Ferndale. He believes the idea would also work in Michigan.

"I saw tons of people posting about it tons of people wanting to sign up," he said. "For the people that were holding out, I think it was the final push to get them to quit waiting."

"I think Ohio did a good thing because money seems to be a universal incentive, in addition to doing something healthy it’s a rare win-win," said George Goike.

Goike, an outpatient therapist, says if you're trying to draw in as many people as possible a vaccine lottery is the way to go. But he says there will still be people who don't buy-in.

Meanwhile, Mark Navin, the chair of philosophy for Oakland University, says right now is the time to push incentives.

"The alternatives to incentives are going to be coercive," he said. "There will be vaccine mandates at work, at school, there's going to be a vaccine passport to travel, there are going to be vaccine requirements to frequent businesses. And as you know, vaccine mandates are politically contentious."

While Navin likes the creativity he also says this lottery a gimmick. he believes more needs to be done to prepare the United States for the next public health crisis.

FOX 2's Charlie Langton said a formal lottery in Michigan would take a bill from the legislature and a signature from the governor, which isn't likely to happen - but there can still be private incentives. The governor's office says they are looking at their options.