COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohioans who have had at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine have until 11:59 p.m. Sunday to enter the second Vax-a-Million drawing.
If you’re 18 and older, you can win one of the five $1 million prizes. Those between the ages of 12 to 17 can win one of five four-year, full-ride scholarships, including room and board, tuition, and books, to any Ohio state college or university.
Bugenske, originally from Shaker Heights near the Cleveland area but who now lives near Cincinnati, won the state’s first $1 million prize. Costello won the college scholarship.
Four more $1 million and college scholarship winners will be announced each Wednesday for the next four weeks.
The second drawing will be held on June 2.
Ohio continues to report an increase in vaccination rates among Ohioans as the deadline for the second Vax-a-Million lottery drawing approaches, according to the Ohio Department of Health.
Vaccination numbers increased during both weeks following the May 12 lottery announcement when compared with the week prior to the announcement, according to Ohio Department of Health.
“Ohio’s Vax-a-Million drawing was designed to bring attention and excitement to vaccination efforts around the state. This data showing significant increases in vaccination numbers during the two weeks since the contest was announced demonstrates it is working,” Ohio Department of Health Director Stephanie McCloud said in a press release. “Vaccines are our best tool to return to the lives we remember from before the pandemic.”
Gov. Mike DeWine announced the lottery program on May 12 to boost lagging vaccination rates.
DeWine said the Ohio Vax-a-Million program has been a success.
“The vaccinations that we’ve received after we announced Vax-A-Million have exceeded my wildest expectations,” DeWine said last week.
More than 2.7 million adults signed up for the $1 million prize and more than 104,000 children ages 12 to 17 entered the drawing for the college scholarship, which includes tuition, room and board, and books.
“I can’t tell you how happy I am about it and it’s been a marked change, a noticeable change,” DeWine said.
Participants must register to enter by phone or via the Vax-a-Million website. Teens can register themselves, but parents or legal guardians must verify their eligibility. The names of entrants who don’t win will be carried over week to week.
“I know that some may say, ‘DeWine, you’re crazy! This million-dollar drawing idea of yours is a waste of money,’” the governor said when he announced the incentive. But with the vaccine now readily available, the real waste, “is a life lost to COVID-19,” the governor said.
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 analysis by the Associated Press.
But the same review also found that vaccination rates are still well below figures from earlier in April and March.
In Colorado, Democratic Gov. Jared Polis says the state will have a weekly lottery for five residents to win $1 million Tuesday to incentive COVID-19 vaccinations. Colorado is setting aside $5 million of federal coronavirus relief funds that would have gone toward vaccine advertising for five residents to win $1 million each.
Participants can enter the $1 million drawing or sign up for a chance to win the scholarships at www.ohiovaxamillion.com or by calling the ODH help line at 1-833-4-ASK-ODH.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.