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Ohio State Rep. Calls State's Vaccine Lottery Program 'A Gross Misuse of Taxpayer Dollars'

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Ohio state Rep. Jena Powell (R) is taking aim at the state’s Vax-a-Million campaign.

States are starting to turn to lottery campaigns to encourage people to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

In Ohio, the Vax-a-Million campaign was launched on May 13 in an effort to “increase awareness of the availability and efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines and provide incentives to Ohioans to get a COVID-19 vaccination.” The first of five drawings will be on May 26.

However, a state representative is speaking out against the state’s vaccine lottery program.

Speaking to CNN’s Brianna Keilar on Monday, Powell said, “The Vax-a-Million lottery is a gross misuse of taxpayer dollars.”

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Keilar noted that there has been a jump in vaccinations in Ohio because of the lottery program. She broke down the numbers, saying that about 32 ICU stays with a ventilator will cost $1 million “and the cost of this lottery is less than a dime per Ohioan.”

Powell, however, pushed back, “Correlation is not always causation.”

She later added, “It feels like a bribe to Ohioans … [They] don’t want gimmicky programs.” Additionally, Powell declared that she is not against the vaccinations, but the lottery itself.

Powell is wanting to end the whole lottery, as she plans to propose a bill this week to do so.

Check out her interview below:

A spokesman for Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine (R) said that the vaccination trend was decreasing before the lottery, “Really the only thing that has changed was the availability of the Vax-a-Million incentive,” according to The Hill.

According to Ohio’s Department of Health, people who are 18 years or older and who have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine “can enter to win one of five $1 million prizes.”

Additionally, “Ohioans ages 12-17 who have received a received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine can enter to win one of five four-year, full-ride scholarships, including room and board, tuition, and books, to any Ohio state college or university,” per the news release.

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In Ohio, 39% are fully vaccinated, while 45% have at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, according to The New York Times. The state has seen a 26% decrease in new COVID-19 cases reported over a 14-day change.

The United States is seeing the fewest cases reported in 11 months, according to the Times. Deaths related to the coronavirus are also at the lowest levels since last summer. Thirty-nine percent of the U.S. population is fully vaccinated and 49% have received at least one dose of the vaccine, as of May 20.

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