116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
In Maryland, each day through July 3, a coronavirus-vaccinated person who signed up for VaxCash will win $40,000, with a $400,000 drawing set for Independence Day.
In Washington, $250,000 is being given away each week, along with merchandise, airline tickets and sports tickets, culminating in a $1 million drawing on July 13.
In New York, Vax & Scratch, gives $20 lottery tickets to people with a chance to win $5 million. Ohio has already awarded $1 million each to three vaccinated people, with two more drawings to go and a chance for young vaccine recipients to win full college scholarships.
These and other states have been offering incentives to help push vaccination rates upward. After an initial surge in vaccinations, many parts of the country have seen vaccine demand plummet, so state leaders are getting creative to entice people to get shots.
Demand for vaccine in Iowa has dropped dramatically in recent weeks, with the state ordering fewer and fewer doses each week. Iowa ranks 26th in the percentage of adults who have received at least one dose, 62 percent, according to the CDC.
Among the states mentioned above, only Ohio has a lower vaccination rate than Iowa, with 58 percent receiving at least one dose. Maryland and Washington are at 71 percent with New York just behind at 69 percent.
But Gov. Kim Reynolds says she is not interested in offering a lottery or other incentives in Iowa to help pump up vaccine demand. She’s content to offer free shots at entertainment and sports venues. She told the Des Moines Register she’s pleased with Iowa’s progress.
Would a lottery dramatically boost demand? Who knows? But at the very least it would send a strong, clear, high-profile signal that the state wants more Iowans to get vaccinated.
That’s important, considering the Reynolds administration has sent mostly mixed signals throughout the pandemic. She’s encouraged vaccinations, and even got her shot on live TV, but she’s also catered to those in her party who think the pandemic is no big deal.
The state should have a strong interest in getting more people vaccinated and closing the door on the pandemic. In economic and health care terms, its continuation is costly, far more costly than a lottery. Incentives must work, otherwise why does the state hand out so many of them to businesses we’re trying to attract?
We’re not at all pleased with Iowa’s stalled vaccination progress. It’s time to give a lottery a try. More Iowans would get shots, and some would win cash. That’s called a win-win. Or as the Iowa Lottery says, “Woo Hoo for You.”
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