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As a new strain of coronavirus (COVID-19) swept through the world in 2020, preparedness plans, masking policies and more public policy changed just as quickly. WVXU has covered the pandemic's impact on the Tri-State from the very beginning, when on March 3, 2020, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine barred spectators from attending the Arnold Sports Festival in Columbus over concerns about the virus, even though Ohio had yet to confirm a single case of COVID-19.

Ohio COVID-19 Vaccinations Increasing After Vax-A-Million Lottery Announced

Updated: 2:25 p.m., Thursday, May 20, 2021

Millions of Ohioans have already signed up for the Vax-A-Million lottery giveaway after the web portal and phone line opened on Tuesday, according to state officials. 

What is not clear is if those signing up are the newly vaccinated who were encouraged by incentives from the state. 

Anyone age 18 and up can sign up for the drawing, and kids age 12 to 7 can enter to win full-ride scholarships to public Ohio universities. 

The drawings will take place each Wednesday starting May 26 for five consecutive Wednesdays. 

A look at the state’s COVID-19 vaccination numberson Friday, two days after the million-dollar lottery was announced, shows more than 30,000 new vaccinations - the highest number recorded in several weeks, Ohio Department of Health (ODH) officials said. 

Vaccinations increased by 28 percent from May 14 to May 17, officials said. 

“This dramatic increase in vaccinations indicates that the Vax-a-Million drawing has been impactful in creating momentum for vaccinations throughout Ohio,” Ohio Department of Health director Stephanie McCloud said in a press release. 

On Sunday, May 16, the state reported more than 7,000 new vaccinations – the highest number reported on a Sunday over the past four weeks. 

The numbers continued to rise Monday, with more than 17,000 people getting the shot. That’s also the highest number reported on a Monday in four weeks, officials said. 

Vaccinations are increasing in every age group except those 80 and older, said ODH spokesperson Alicia Shoults. 

“That group is decreasing at a less rapid pace, demonstrating some positive impact even in that group,” Shoults told ideastream via email. 

However, these increases are not being seen in all areas of the state. 

Locally, vaccinations have actually decreased in clinics run by Cuyahoga County health officials, according to a spokesperson. 

Governor Mike DeWine announced the Vax-A-Million giveaway May 12 as an incentive for people to receive at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccines, ahead of the state lifting all pandemic-related health orders June 2. 

Registration opened Tuesday, and millions of adults have entered the million-dollar lottery online thus far, and tens of thousands of kids have signed up for the scholarship drawing, Ohio lottery and health officials said in a release. 

Staff members fielded more than 60,000 calls on the first day of registration, according to the release, and the Vax-A-Million website had more than 25 million pageviews yesterday.

Officials recommend people refresh the webpage, clear their cache or use a different web browser if experiencing issues signing up.

Lottery officials will announce the exact number of entries next week, due to security reasons, according to the release.


Copyright 2021 WCPN

Anna Huntsman is a senior broadcast journalism student at Kent State with experience reporting for radio, television and digital platforms. She reports for the Ohio News Connection, Ohio's branch of the Public News Service, and helps run the weekend assignment desk at WKYC. Anna served as the General Manager of TV2, Kent State's student-led television station, during the 2017-18 school year. A Canton native, she is excited to join the WKSU team and tell stories in the Northeast Ohio community.