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‘Shot of a Lifetime’ lottery increased vaccine rates 24% with biggest boost among youth

The increase is equal to about 28,500 Washingtonians becoming vaccinated, according to state health officials.

Editor's Note: The video above about the third $250,000 vaccine lottery winner was published on June 24.

OLYMPIA, Wash. - Data from the Washington State Department of Health (DOH) shows the lottery increased vaccinations by 24% with the largest boost among youth under 18.

The increase is equal to about 28,500 Washingtonians becoming vaccinated, according to DOH spokesperson Kristen Maki.

The “Shot of a Lifetime” vaccine lottery was announced by Gov. Jay Inslee and his team in early June with millions of dollars in prizes, including four $250,000 cash prizes.

To calculate the lottery's impact, state officials compared post-lottery vaccination rates to projected rates if pre-lottery trends had continued.

For example, before the lottery was announced, vaccination rates were decreasing about 3 to 10% daily, according to DOH. Without the lottery, DOH said it would have expected those rates to continue declining, but vaccination rates started increasing after the lottery was announced.

The biggest change was among people under 18, where vaccination rates increased after the lottery. Vaccination rates for that age group were decreasing the fastest prior to the lottery. The difference was progressively smaller among older age groups with the smallest difference among the oldest people, according to Maki.

The 24% increase was calculated by comparing actual and projected vaccine rates for people over 16 years old.

Those eligible for the lottery are Washingtonians who have gotten at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. Winners for the first four $250,000 prizes would be chosen every Tuesday in June, and then a grand $1 million prize winner would be chosen on the second Tuesday of July. 

The last of the $250,000 prizes was given away last week to a man from Walla Walla who admitted that he didn’t really know the lottery was going on and nearly didn’t call lottery officials back to claim his prize because he thought it was a scam.

Following a break in the drawings this week, a $1 million cash prize winner will be picked July 13. The state will also pick the winners for hundreds of other prizes that went unclaimed in previous drawings.

Inslee recently introduced “A Heroes Thanks,” a similar program but aimed specifically at military members, their families and veterans who were not included in "Shot of a Lifetime." The first drawing is expected to take place on Tuesday, July 20, and looks to encourage those in the armed forces to get the shot. 

Still, the point of the lottery was to help boost Washington’s vaccination rate so that the state would hit Inslee’s goal of 70% of residents 16 years old and up having at least gotten one dose of the vaccine by June 30.

The date has come and gone, along with the state’s reopening, but as of July 6, Washington is still just shy of its goal with a vaccination rate of 69.2%, drawing some speculation on how effective the lottery has been.

   

Ohio, a state whose vaccine lottery came before Washington’s, said it did see an increase in vaccination rates for residents 16 years and older after its lottery was announced.