Why Michigan isn’t offering lotteries to incentivize COVID vaccinations

‘It’s definitely complicated,’ state Rep. says

State 'vaccination lotteries': Why isn't it happening in Michigan?
State 'vaccination lotteries': Why isn't it happening in Michigan?

DETROIT – An adult will win a million dollars and someone between the ages of 12-17 will win a college scholarship Wednesday -- just for getting vaccinated against COVID-19.

READ: Ohio to announce 1st winners of Vax-a-Million lottery

Ohio’s Vax-a-Million lottery will take place over several weeks. Maryland’s Vax-Cash program has already given someone $40,000.

The states that are offering prizes for vaccinations are getting strong participation, so why hasn’t Michigan tried?

READ: Vax and scratch: NY offers $5M lottery for newly vaccinated

“Someone who got a COVID vaccine in Bay County also won a two-year lease on a new Buick,” said Bay County Health Director Joel Strasz. “It was a Buick Enclave, I believe.”

Strasz said the key to enticing more people to get vaccinated with a chance to win a car and cash prizes was to have the business community donate prizes. No tax dollars were used.

“There were able to garner resources for a raffle and added prizes, like a two-year lease on a car, $500 prizes and a host of other prizes that were donated,” Strasz said.

May 26, 2021: Michigan coronavirus cases up to 886,118; Death toll now at 19,031

With vaccination rates slowing down, Michigan just has to look south to Ohio, which is seeing a jump in rates by offering the chance to win a million dollars.

“Michigan law precludes us from doing that,” Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said. “We are investigating additional ways to get people to get vaccinated.”

Macomb and St. Clair county state Rep. Pam Hornberger said it would be a complicated process that would likely involved the Michigan Lottery Commission.

“I don’t know how they get their hands on COVID dollars,” Hornberger said. “If it wasn’t COVID dollars, then I think it would come from the general fund, which opens up another can of worms.”

MORE: Vaccine Town Hall: Ask your questions here

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About the Authors:

Shawn Ley is an Emmy-Award winning reporter. In more than 20 years covering stories in television news, Shawn’s reporting has taken him from war-torn eastern Europe, to reporting from an F-16 fighter jet and now to the fast and furious breaking news of Detroit.

Dane is a producer and media enthusiast. He previously worked freelance video production and writing jobs in Michigan, Georgia and Massachusetts. Dane graduated from the Specs Howard School of Media Arts.