While some Iowans who are fully vaccinated for COVID-19 can win up to $50,000 in weekly drawings, a new study finds the statewide vaccine lottery in Ohio has not increased vaccination rates there.

Allan Walkey, a professor of medicine at Boston University, says findings show health officials could have better results using the lottery prize money to instead target vaccine-hesitant groups. Walkey says, “I think finding groups of people that have strong opinions against the COVID vaccine and reaching out and starting a discourse and discussions with them as to what their fears are.”

Walkey says lotteries don’t address many people’s deep concerns about the coronavirus vaccine. “I think most people are probably not on the fence that could be swayed by a weak nudge, like a lottery incentive, and probably need more of a stronger intervention,” he says.

Governor Kim Reynolds has declined to create a statewide lottery in Iowa, but some Iowa counties — like Polk County — created their own. Officials there say the goal is to increase the vaccination rate to 75-percent of eligible residents by August 22nd. Polk County’s current rate is at 63-percent.

(By Natalie Krebs, Iowa Public Radio)