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State lotteries haven’t helped boost vaccination rates


By Steven Reinberg
Health Day reporter

FRIDAY, October 15, 2021 (HealthDay News) – A chance to win $ 1 million did nothing to shake up the number of people who have received the COVID-19 vaccine.

Lotteries in 19 states designed to encourage people to get vaccinated against COVID-19 have not changed the rate of those who have been vaccinated, according to a new study. In fact, vaccination rates were the same in lottery and non-lottery states.

“It is possible that the group you are trying to convince to get the vaccine is not at all convinced that they want the vaccine,” said researcher Andrew Friedson, associate professor of economics at the University of Colorado at Denver.

“Maybe they’ve been subjected to incorrect information about the dangers of vaccines or the benefits of vaccines, and unless you can adjust their beliefs, no incentive will make a difference,” he said. . noted.

For the study, Friedson and his colleagues looked at the number of COVID-19 vaccinations given per 1,000 people before and after the lotteries were announced. The researchers compared this data to the number of COVID-19 vaccines given in states that did not offer rewards.

Investigators found little to no association between having a lottery and vaccination rates. There was essentially “zero difference” in vaccination rates in states that had a lottery compared to those that did not, Friedson said.

“If you think something is dangerous, a lottery ticket won’t convince you to do it,” he noted.

Friedson believes that the only approach that might work in reaching those who refuse to be vaccinated is some kind of education program that convinces people that vaccines are safe and effective.

“I am ready to try anything within reason,” he said. “So we tried lotteries, they seem to not work, and now it’s time to move on and try something new.”

But changing your mind is hard, Friedson said, and there may be a hardcore group that won’t get the shot no matter what you do.

“I hope not,” he said. “But it’s definitely a possibility. We’re definitely entering a group that’s a lot harder to convince, and I don’t know what it’s going to take.”

The report was published online on October 15 in JAMA Health Forum.

Dr Kevin Schulman, professor of medicine at Stanford University’s Center for Clinical Excellence in Palo Alto, Calif., Believes lotteries were worth a try.

“Lotteries were important tactics in trying to increase vaccination at the state level. Many states implementing lotteries were ‘red’ states, so I’m grateful that the Republican leadership started to engage. in vaccination efforts Ultimately, a tactic is not a communication strategy, ”said Schulman.

Communication tactics need to be tested and evaluated to see if they are effective, Schulman added. “However, if one tactic fails, you need to implement other vaccine communication approaches. In many cases the lottery was a one-time effort and when it didn’t have the desired effect, we didn’t. haven’t seen any follow-up with other programs, “he said.

Another expert isn’t surprised that offering people money to go against their beliefs doesn’t work.

“Most people make health choices by weighing the risks, costs and benefits. In the case of vaccines, many have chosen to be vaccinated because they enjoy leading a long and healthy life, ”said Iwan Baranway. He is Associate Professor of Business Economics and Public Policy at the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia.

“Those who have not been vaccinated have not been swayed by these valuable health benefits, so it seems illogical that a few dollars in expected payments can convince them otherwise. hardships, ”he explained.

Additionally, a recent randomized field experiment in Philadelphia that varied incentives to get vaccinated also showed no effect on vaccination rates, Baranway said.

“There are, however, real socio-economic and cultural barriers that lead people to avoid vaccines based on their preferences or experiences – but again, small amounts will not be able to cope,” he said. he adds.

It’s the experience of seeing friends, family and colleagues get sick, and the gains that immunization mandates bring in immunization rates that make the difference, said Baranway.

“It is important to continue efforts to show people real data from their communities on hospitalization rates of vaccinated versus unvaccinated people, and how mandates within companies are reducing the number of COVID cases by due to an increase in vaccination rates, ”he said.

More information

To learn more about COVID-19 vaccines, visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

SOURCES: Andrew Friedson, PhD, associate professor, economics, University of Colorado, Denver; Kevin Schulman, MD, professor, Center for Clinical Research Excellence in Medicine, Stanford University, Palo Alto, California; Iwan Baranway, PhD, associate professor, business economics and public policy, Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia; JAMA Health Forum, October 15, 2021, online

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