Ohio Vax-A-Million: Who are the first vaccine lottery winners?

Midwest

COLUMBUS (NewsNation Now) — Ohio has announced the first winners in its Vax-A-Million lottery drawing.

Abbigail Bugenske, of Silverton, was picked as the first of five $1 million winners Wednesday, while Joseph Costello, of Englewood, won a full-ride scholarship to any of Ohio’s state universities.

Names are drawn on the Monday following the Sunday entry deadline. According to the state’s lottery commission, it draws a winner and up to 100 alternates using a random number generator. Those names are then turned over to the Ohio Department of Health to verify their vaccination status. Should the first name not meet the required standards, the next name on the list is checked, and so on until a winner is verified.

More than 2.5 million people entered the first drawing.

The next scheduled drawings for the Vax-A-Million prizes are:

Entry deadlineDrawing dateAnnouncement date
May 30, 11:59:59 p.m.May 31June 2, 7:29 p.m.
June 6, 11:59:59 p.m.June 7June 9, 7:29 p.m.
June 13, 11:59:59 p.m.June 14June 16, 7:29 p.m.
June 20, 11:59:59 p.m.June 21June 23, 7:29 p.m.

All Ohio residents who have had at least one Pfizer, Moderna, or Johnson & Johnson shot are urged to register at Ohiovaxamillion.com or by calling 1-833-4-ASK-ODH (1-833-427-5634). Ohioans who meet the eligibility requirements have until Sunday, May 30 at 11:59 p.m. to sign up for next Wednesday’s winner announcement. If you entered the first drawing, there is no need to register again — your entry is good for the next four drawings.

Read the latest news on the coronavirus

The concept seemed to work, at least initially. The number of people in Ohio age 16 and older who received their initial COVID-19 vaccine jumped 33% in the week after the state announced its million-dollar incentive lottery, according to an Associated Press analysis.

But the same review also found that vaccination rates are still well below figures from earlier in April and March.

More than 5.1 million people in Ohio had at least started the vaccination process as of Monday, or 44% of the state. About 4.5 million people are done getting vaccinated, or 38% of the state. Nationally, more than 164 million Americans have started the vaccination process or about 49% of the population. About 131 million are fully vaccinated, or about 39%.

Vax-a-Million is open to permanent Ohio residents who have received either the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine or their first part of the two-dose Pfizer or Moderna vaccination.

DeWine’s proposal inspired similar vaccine-incentive lotteries in Colorado, Maryland, New York state and Oregon.

The Associated Press and NewsNation affiliate WCMH contributed to this report.

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