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Final Colorado vaccine lottery winner announced, but did the incentive lead to more to vaccinations?

Data shows a decline in vaccinations, but experts say it doesn't tell the whole story
Colorado's final vaccine lottery winner
Posted at 7:42 PM, Jul 07, 2021

DENVER — Colorado Gov. Jared Polis announced the final winner of the Colorado Comeback Cash vaccine lottery on Wednesday after five drawings and $5,000,000 distributed.

The winner was Colorado mom Heidi Russell, who said she would use the money on her four children and to pay off student debt.

"This prize will be so helpful in raising kids," Russell said. "I don't know if there is a big enough word to say thank you."

The final winner was announced just after the state surpassed the national goal of 70% of adults being vaccinated.

But statewide data shows the lottery may have had little effect on getting hesitant Coloradans immunized.

Vaccine enthusiasm started to wane in April, nearly a month before the vaccine lottery was announced, according to the data. Since the first winner was drawn, vaccination numbers per day have continued to decline.

The Journal of American Medical Associates released data from a study on Ohio's vaccine lottery. The study "did not find evidence that a lottery-based incentive in Ohio was associated with increased rates of adult COVID-19 vaccinations."

But some experts say the numbers do not tell the whole story.

"The key question is what would have happened in the absence of introducing the vaccine lottery," said Glen Mays, a professor of health policy at the University of Colorado School of Public Health. "At the time Colorado introduced the lottery, we were chasing a smaller and smaller population that are vaccinated people."