Do Vaccine Lotteries Work?

We’re at the stage in the pandemic where vaccinations are so important. Incentives are now being given to people that will encourage them to get vaccinated, but is this working? Actually, is it right that this is happening?

In the USA, North Carolina have created a lottery aimed at boosting vaccination rates. $1 million is up for grabs but since its introduction on June 10, rates have gone up by 1% from 54% to 55%. Does that mean that over half the population decided to go and get vaccinated without the offer of a life-changing win? It’s not exactly fair on them, is it? Do people just wait to get jabbed in the hope they might be able to get some financial benefit for doing so?

Governor Roy Cooper is hoping that “the next few days and few weeks we will see some significant improvement in our numbers. We’re trying to find everything we can, even keeping steady would be a positive thing.” John Hopkins University data says 39% of the population in North Carolina have had both their jabs. That’s 6% below the national average.

Other American states have launched vaccine lotteries and seen good increases. In Ohio, the vaccination rate rose by 33% in the first week. In California, 89,800 vaccinations took place the day after heir lottery was announced. Perhaps people in those states are more desperate to win some cash? If making such offers shouldn’t there also be some reward for those who didn’t need to be given a financial incentive?

In Canada, the province of Alberta has launched the ‘Open for Summer Lottery’ with three $1 million prizes to be won. Imagine what you can say to the winners? ‘How did you become a millionaire?’ ‘Oh, I entered a vaccine lottery because that’s what it took for me to get fully vaccinated.’ Not good is it.

Infection rates have been increasing in Alberta so the need to be vaccinated is even more important. The lottery is for those who have had at least one shot and are at least 18 years old. The first draw won’t take place until 70% of citizens have been vaccinated, a figure that has nearly been reached.

Jason Kenney is the Alberta Premier and said of the lottery: “ Many places around the world have launched similar lotteries like this because we need to nudge those who haven’t gotten around to getting their vaccine yet.”

Will It work though? Not according to Robert Oxoby. He’s a behavioural economist who works at the University of Calgary. His view is that “You can’t change preferences with money. There’s years of evidence that you can’t do it.”