Published: May 27, 2021

Kansas health department working with lottery commission on vaccine lottery

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Kansas Department of Health and Environment Secretary Dr. Lee Norman said the state is trying “all manner of things” to get vaccines into arms — and that could include a vaccine lottery in the near future.

Ohio recently launched a vaccine lottery to incentivize residents to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

Those who have been vaccinated can enter the weekly drawings for a prize of $1 million, or a four-year scholarship to an Ohio state college, including tuition, room and board, and books.

Norman said Tuesday during the daily University of Kansas Health System broadcast Kansas is exploring a similar opportunity to reach those he calls “vaccine-lazy.”

He described those as people who intend to get the vaccine, but “just haven’t gotten around to it yet.”

Norman said the department has to employ a drastically different strategy to get these people vaccinated than mass vaccination clinics.

One avenue could be a lottery.

Norman said they are working with the Kansas Lottery Commission to develop a program.

It won’t be quite like Ohio’s — where kids ages 12 to 17 can enter for the college scholarships — and the prize won’t be $1 million.

Rather, Norman said they would offer something more appropriately sized for Kansas residents 18 and older who have been vaccinated.

The lottery would not “penalize” those who have already been vaccinated.

Norman said anyone who has been vaccinated before the lottery launches can enter, too, so that’s not a good reason to no get the vaccine now.

Other community efforts include finding ways to connect with tough-to-reach communities, reaching out at fishing holes, truck stops and more.

Norman said while this strategy is much slower, more time consuming and more labor intensive than a mass vaccine clinic, health officials need to be happy with “onesies and twosies” as the state works toward herd immunity.

At the current rate of vaccinations, Norman said it will take Kansas approximately seven more months to reach that goal.

But, with signs the vaccine lottery is working in Ohio, there’s potential for a Kansas lottery to speed things up.

Because fewer and fewer people are seeking the vaccine, there is a lot sitting on Kansas shelves.

While Norman said they haven’t had any vaccine expire, it has been getting close in some instances.

A vaccine lottery could also help solve that problem.

Norman did not provide a time frame for when the lottery might open.

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