Polk County vaccination lottery check-in: Are COVID-19 vaccine incentives working?

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POLK COUNTY, Iowa – From lotteries to giveaways, health officials across the country are getting creative to get people vaccinated against COVID-19. One question remains: Is it working?

Polk County says residents are taking advantage of the money motivation, and its call center has heard from people that said the lottery gave them the nudge to get the shot.

“We know that incentives work. We know that this helps individuals to get vaccinated, and we know right now that it’s incredibly important for everyone who can be vaccinated to get vaccinated,” Nola Aigner Davis, Polk County public health communications officer, said.

The Polk County Board of Supervisors hopes the chance to win $50,000 will help the county reach its goal of 75% community immunity. Latest numbers show Polk County’s vaccination rate is only at 63.5%.

However, a new study from Boston University suggests lottery-based incentives aren’t effective. Researchers looked at vaccination rates in Ohio both before and after the state’s million dollar lottery was announced. Results showed the program did not lead to an increase in vaccinations.

While some medical professionals say these incentives don’t address people’s concerns about the vaccine, Polk County Health says the lottery is just one of their tactics.

“There are a lot of different incentives here in Polk County that we were working on to make sure that we get the community vaccinated, not just through the lottery program,” Davis said. “It’s also through working with our community partners and having our community partners do outreach specifically to communities to make sure they’re having that one on one contact.”

These efforts are specifically for Polk County. Gov. Reynolds has not created a statewide lottery in Iowa.

Here’s what people thought about vaccine incentives on Twitter: https://twitter.com/CalynTReports/status/1414633776227966990

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