In the US, the first winners of the "vaccination lotteries" being adopted by a growing number of states - including West Virginia (which is offering guns, trucks & "piles of cash), California and a handful of others - are taking home life-changing money, all because they decided to get vaccinated.
And according to WSJ, the incentives that these programs create are already having a positive impact on the vaccination rate, which has finally eclipsed 50% of American adults. The program is also having some success in Hong Kong.
But while it's impossible to determine exactly how many people are getting vaccinated because of the potential monetary rewards created by the vaccination lotteries, the anecdotal evidence is clear, as the Toledo Blade showed in a recent story about one of Ohio's "Vax-a-Million" winners who happened to be a Toledo resident.
"I kept hemming and hawing about it, and I work all the time, and when the Vax-a-Million thing started I immediately went down there and got it. It pushed me over the edge," he said.
Mr. Carlyle said after he hung up with the governor, he then called his girlfriend to let his family know he had won.
"It’s overwhelming. I don't know what to do. I'm still dreaming,” he said.
In Ohio alone, 3.2MM people entered the drawing - all of whom hadn't been previously vaccinated despite being eligible for weeks or months. And Ohio's Gov. ike DeWine credited the lottery enticements for a recent spike in vaccinations in the Buckeye State.
More than 3.2 million Ohioans entered the drawing to win the $1 million prize, and nearly 133,000 Ohioans ages 12 to 17 entered the college scholarship drawing, according to the Ohio Department of Health and the Ohio Lottery. The entry period for the next Ohio Vax-a-Million drawing ends June 6, 2021 at 11:59:59 p.m.
Governor DeWine credited the lottery enticement for a spike in new vaccinations after his initial announcement, but the numbers show the rate has again leveled off.
WSJ's Mike Bird added that the efficacy shown so far is evidence that vaccination lotteries create benefits that far outweigh their costs.
It’s difficult to overstate just how small the lottery payouts are relative to the economies they cover. In Hong Kong’s case, a real-estate developer is offering an apartment valued at roughly $1.39 million. That prize, though highly valuable to the winner, is equivalent to 0.0004% of the city’s already-reduced 2020 GDP.
Faster vaccinations enable more rapid economic normalization, especially in places that still have significant international travel restrictions in place. That normalization is worth far more than any plausible prizes. One percentage point of GDP growth for Hong Kong would be equivalent to around 2,500 such apartments. The same is true for Ohio’s million-dollar payouts, in an economy with output in the hundreds of billions of dollars a year.
What's more, there's evidence from a study in Singapore showing financial incentives are effective at boosting vaccination rates.
But there is evidence that financial incentives work. Vouchers worth just 10-30 Singapore dollars ($7.56 to $22.69) could boost take-up of influenza vaccines by 4.5% to 9.2% in one study, with the strongest effect among elderly recipients. A review of the literature by the U.S. Community Preventive Services Task Force showed vaccination rates rising by a median of 8 percentage points in the studies assessed.
At the very least, using financial incentives is certainly more humane than coercing people by allowing employers to effectively require all new hires to be vaccinated, which risks excluding people who object to vaccination for religious or other reasons from the workforce.