A new study published in the Journal of American Medical Association (JAMA) shows how cash drawings like the one California held didn’t do much to incentivize people.
In June the 'Vax for the Win' lottery was an effort by Governor Gavin Newsom to incentivize Californians to get the COVID-19 vaccine. The state gave away a total of $116. 5 million dollars. Nancy Gutierrez, 17, from Vista, was one of the lucky winners taking home $50,000.
Following the event, Governor Newsom shared how the lottery, as well as gift card and theme park admission giveaways, helped to increase the state’s vaccination rates, despite this new study's findings.
“My initial opinion is I can't believe we live in a place where we have to incentive people to the greater good of society and that even then that didn’t work, so I wonder just why? Why are people digging their heels?,” said Mission Valley resident Daniela Caro.
Nineteen states across the country organized vaccine lotteries. The study, which included researchers from San Diego State University, found "no statistically significant association” between a cash drawing announcement and vaccination rates. They examined data collectively between all states, noting how one state could have outperformed another for a series of reasons.
As of mid-October, San Diego County’s vaccination rate sits at 80%. Recent mandates surrounding work and travel may have had the biggest influence on hesitant San Diegans.
"International travel is going to get pretty strict and to come back to the United States, everyone has to be vaccinated, so I think that’s one good way to do it," said San Diego resident Ana Lysikova.
The San Diego Latino Health Coalition (SDLHC) explained how grassroots efforts seen across many communities, including the work of "promotoras," have made a difference.
"Really having that support of really neighbor to neighbor, one on one, that really made a difference," said Miriam Rodriguez, a "promotora" with the SDLHC.
Still, those efforts may not be enough to convince those who have already made up their minds.
"Some people might still be hesitant. They might quit their jobs, but I mean, that’s not an answer to the question," said Lysikova.
While a big cash prize may seem enticing, the study’s researchers noted how some may have brushed off the lottery because they figured it was only a slim chance they would be among the lucky winners.