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DeWine surprised at significant rise in vaccination rate since 'Vax-a-Million' lottery announcement

The governor said the state has seen the vaccination rate of those 16 years old and up increase by 45% as of Friday.

COLUMBUS, Ohio — After visiting a COVID-19 vaccination site at Nationwide Children's Hospital on Saturday, Gov. Mike DeWine said even he was surprised at the growing vaccination rates since the 'Vax-a-Million' lottery was announced.

The 'Vax-a-Million' lottery was announced almost two weeks ago as an incentive for Ohioans to get the vaccine before the health orders were lifted on June 2.

The governor said the state has seen the vaccination rate of those 16 years old and up increase by 45% as of Friday.

"In my wildest dreams, I did not think it would be this good, this effective. We thought, we hoped it would turn things around. It would get us moving upward instead of downward, but had no idea it would be this successful," DeWine said.

Not only do vaccinated adults have a chance to win a million dollars, but children between the ages of 12 and 17 can win a four-year scholarship to any Ohio state college, including room and board.

The governor said he's seeing a large increase in people in that age range signing up to win the prize.

"The number of those who have signed up online is phenomenally high. It's higher than the adults. So it kind of tells us there's some interest there," DeWine said.

DeWine said the vaccination rates for every demographic in the state have gone significantly up since the lottery announcement except for those 80 years old and up. The governor said 75% of that group has already been vaccinated.

Given the success of the vaccination rates, the governor did not rule out the possibility of adding on more prizes after the five-week lottery pool is over.

"We're going to take it one week at a time. We've outlined what we're going to do," DeWine said. "We'll make those decisions as we move along."

As of May 21, nearly 44% of Ohioans have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.