The vaccine lottery in Ohio shows some incentives that can work

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For some Ohio residents, the prospect of earning a million dollars is a sufficient incentive to roll up and get vaccinated against COVID-19. In fact, since Governor Mike DeWine’s office announced the five weekly draws of $ 1 million each, the number of people who signed up has increased.

“There were more vaccinations on Friday than on any other day in the last three weeks. We’ve seen an increase in both vaccinated teens and adults ages 30 to 74,” Dan Tierney, secretary of the press, told Medscape Medical News. Ohio Office Governor Mike DeWine.

“This is really changing downward trends in vaccine uptake,” he added. “We are pleased that this has helped draw attention to the power of the vaccine and encouraged people to get vaccinated.”

Like other recently announced incentives against the COVID-19 vaccine, the goal is to reach people who are likely to be vaccinated but who need a boost to take action. This “half-mobile” group is among vaccine enthusiasts and people who report that they will never be vaccinated.

Vaccine incentive programs are not without controversy. Some Ohio officials criticized the use of federal COVID-19 relief money to fund the incentive, for example. But to DeWine, who came up with the idea of ​​the lottery, it seems inexorable.

He “OhioVaxaMillion” The drawings are scheduled for five consecutive Wednesdays starting May 26th. At the same time, a second round of full scholarships will be held at a 4-year state university for vaccinated 12- to 17-year-old residents.

The Ohio lottery may be eye-catching, but it’s not alone. Other states and retailers are encouraging the “mobile center” through donuts, beer, baseball tickets and more. West Virginia announced a $ 100 savings bond incentive for residents, which requires more patience because the bonds will not mature for years.

While some have criticized Ohio for such a high incentive, West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice loved his program. it would cost $ 27.5 million if the state vaccinated all residents aged 16 to 35 years.

He described the amount as a “small price” compared to the $ 75 million the state has already spent on COVID-19 testing.

Prediction of who will be influenced

One of the goals shared by all incentive programs is to motivate people “on the fence” about COVID-19 vaccines. Research on demographics or people from people most likely to reach that group or respond to specific messages may be helpful, but it’s likely to be just a starting point, experts point out.

“We’re targeting all eligible Ohioians, but we’re also making efforts to make sure underserved communities and older Ohioians are included,” Tierney said.

Public health officials often classify groups of people who may be more or less likely to be vaccinated against others. “We think about who gets vaccinated who doesn’t and who may have intentions to get vaccinated,” said Robert Bednarczyk, an assistant doctor of global health and epidemiology at the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University in Atlanta, during a media briefing. communication of 18 May. briefing sponsored by Emory.

“I think some of these categories that we often look at tend to be very uniquely focused,” he said, so they don’t explain the diversity of individuals within a given group.

“Some of this research is helpful in initially knowing who intends to get vaccinated and who doesn’t, but that doesn’t give us all the answers.”

Instead, it remains essential to understand by person or small group that you may be susceptible to some of the vaccine incentive programs. “We can’t paint everyone we identify with specific demographic characteristics so that everyone has the same attitudes and the same perceptions,” he added.

At the level of Persona

Instead of grouping people by age, gender, race, or ethnicity when predicting the effectiveness of vaccine incentives, looking at people can help. It would be similar to a customer-based approach in advertising or messaging that companies can employ.

There are five main types of characters in terms of willingness to be vaccinated against COVID-19, reveals a nationally representative survey of 2,747 American adults:

  • The enthusiasts

  • The watchman

  • The disturbing

  • The distrustful of the system

  • Conspiracy believers

Excluding 40% of enthusiasts and 17% of conspiracy believers, the Surgus Ventures survey group noted that 43% of Americans fall into one of the most compelling groups.

A Surgus analysis of the findings aligns with Bednarczyk’s vision of classifying people. “Some subgroups (women, Republicans, essential workers, black individuals, rural residents, and those with lower incomes and levels of education) tend to express a lower likelihood of getting the vaccine, but these groups are not a monolith.”

Instead, they report that resolving barriers by people could be helpful. For example, the key barrier to the “vigilante group” is community norms: they tend to wait and see how others leave first.

Those “concerned about costs” are, as their name suggests, more concerned about time and money, so an incentive for employees to take paid time off to get vaccinated may resonate with them.

“Systemic distrusters” include people who might believe that COVID-19 vaccines have not been fully evaluated to ensure the safety of their racial or ethnic group and / or that they have a general distrust of the health care system. Reaching this group may require the promotion of data on racial vaccination disparities or the establishment of vaccination clinics in local communities.

What is there for me?

So, once officials identify the type of person they need to reach, what other considerations are important? Messaging that highlights the advantages for one person it may be more effective than the altruistic or population-based benefits associated with COVID-19 vaccination, research shows.

For example, UK researchers estimated 15,014 for hesitation. Within this group, 66% were willing, 16% doubtful, and 18% strongly hesitated to take a COVID-19 vaccine.

Although the type of information provided did not significantly change the hesitation of vaccines among those who were willing or hesitant, it did have a significant effect on those who hesitated.

Vaccination rates of vaccines fell among the most hesitant when information focused on not getting sick personally compared to the collective benefit of reducing virus transmission, researchers reported on May 12. from 2021 a Lancet Public Health.

It is not a substitute for public health

During the briefing, a reporter asked Bednarczyk how long it will likely take to evaluate the success of the Ohio COVID-19 lottery and other recent incentives.

“I don’t know if there’s a clear number we’re looking at or a clear pace we’re looking at that indicates that this works,” he said. “What we’re really paying attention to is: are the numbers still rising?”

The recent expansion of vaccine eligibility to include 12- to 15-year-olds could also increase the number of vaccines, he added.

Ultimately, access to vaccines and community outreach are more essential than incentive programs, Bednarczyk said.

“For people who don’t have confidence in the vaccine or the vaccination program, these gifts are unlikely to overcome those concerns,” he said. “We still need to work with our communities to understand their concerns” and help answer their questions.

“I’m concerned that while we can see some people getting vaccinated because of these incentive programs and because of these giveaways, these kinds of more showy programs can distract from the daily work on the ground that our health public professionals do it “.

Damian McNamara is a staff Miami-based journalist. It covers a wide range of medical specialties, including infectious diseases, gastroenterology, and critical care. Follow Damian on Twitter: @MedReporter.

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