Ohio Republican knocks vaccine lottery program: 'A gross misuse of taxpayer dollars'

Ohio Republican knocks vaccine lottery program: 'A gross misuse of taxpayer dollars'
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A Republican state lawmaker in Ohio on Monday slammed a program to enter residents who get vaccinated against COVID-19 into a lottery for prize money, calling it a waste of money. 

"The Vax-a-Million lottery is a gross misuse of taxpayer dollars," state Rep. Jena Powell (R) said during an appearance on CNN's "New Day."  

"It feels like a bribe to Ohioans," Powell said. "Ohioans don’t want gimmicky programs.”

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"There's a lot of ways that we can inform Ohioans and have them work with their health care provider to find out what's best for them and how they can take the vaccine and protect the most vulnerable in our state," she added. 

Powell said she believes that Ohioans should take the vaccine "if they work with their health care provider and they figure out that's what's best for their health." 

Powell, who is reportedly drafting legislation that would stop the Vax-a-Million program, also suggested that the improved vaccination rates reported in Ohio since the launch of the program could be attributed to multiple factors. 
 
Health officials in Ohio have reported a spike in the state's vaccination rate following the announcement of the program, which offers residents who get vaccinated the chance to win one of five $1 million prizes. Younger residents are offered scholarships. The first winners will be announced on Wednesday, WBNS-TV reported

“This dramatic increase in vaccinations indicates that the Vax-a-Million drawing has been impactful in creating momentum for vaccinations throughout Ohio,” Stephanie McCloud, director of the Ohio Department of Health, said last week. “We are grateful that the drawings are helping spur Ohioans to take this important measure to protect their health, their loved ones, and their community."

Several other states, such as New York, Maryland and Oregon have turned to lotteries as a way of incentivizing vaccination to their residents.