In the US state of Ohio, first you get a COVID-19 shot, then you get a shot at US$1 million ($1.29 million).

And then, if you’re 22-year-old Abbigal Bugenske, you scream so loudly your parents think you’re crying when you find out your the state’s first Vax-a-Millionaire.

The mechanical engineer was driving to her family’s home in suburban Cleveland when she took a call about the good news from state Governor Mike DeWine.

In this still image, taken from video by the Office of the Ohio Governor, Abbigail Bugenske, 22, from Cincinnati, the first winner of Ohio’s first $1 million Vax-a-Million vaccination incentive prize, is interviewed during a news conference, Thursday, May 27, 2021. (Office of Ohio Governor via AP) (AP)

A few minutes later she was in her parents’ house screaming.

She described becoming the first winner of Ohio’s $1 million Vax-a-Million incentive prize as “a whirlwind” during a news conference on Thursday morning (Friday morning AEST).

“It absolutely has not processed yet. I am still digesting it — and I like to say that it feels like this is happening to a different person. I cannot believe it.”

The 2020 Michigan State University graduate plans to donate to charities and buy a car, but then invest most of the money and has no plans to quit her job.

Mr DeWine, a Republican, announced the program on May 12 to boost lagging vaccination rates.

“I know that some may say, ‘DeWine, you’re crazy! This million-dollar drawing idea of yours is a waste of money,'” the governor said when he announced the incentive.

But with the vaccine now readily available, the real waste, “is a life lost to COVID-19,” the Governor said.

The $1 million wasn’t the only prize on offer for vaccinated Ohioans.

Year 8 student Joseph Costello told reporters he was “very excited” to win a full college scholarship

A woman walks into Ohio’s COVID-19 mass vaccination clinic at Cleveland State University in Ohio. (AP)

Mother Colleen Costello said she got the call from the governor as she left work on Wednesday (Thursday AEST).

At first she thought it was a recording, then realised it was the Governor himself.

“I was really thankful at that moment that there was a bench nearby, because I needed to sit down,” she said.

Ms Bugenske said she received the Moderna vaccine as soon as she was eligible, long before the lottery was announced.

The Costellos said they were already vaccinated and had planned to have their children vaccinated by the end of the month, but the lottery announcement inspired them to move those appointments up.

More than 2.7 million adults signed up for the US$1 million ($1.29 million) prize and more than 104,000 children ages 12 to 17 entered the drawing for the college scholarship, which includes tuition, room and board, and books.

Four more $1 million and college scholarship winners will be announced each Wednesday for the next four weeks.

The concept seemed to work, at least initially. The number of people in Ohio age 16 and older who received their initial COVID-19 vaccine jumped 33% in the week after the state announced its million-dollar incentive lottery, according to an Associated Press analysis.

But the same review also found vaccination rates were still well below figures from earlier in April and March.

More than 5.2 million people in Ohio had at least started the vaccination process as of Monday, or about 45 per cent of the state.

About 4.6 million people are done getting vaccinated, or 39 per of the state.

Nationally, more than 165 million Americans have started the vaccination process, or about nearly 50 per cent of the population. More than 131 million are fully vaccinated, or nearly 40 per cent.

About 500 million Australians are fully vaccinated, with almost 4 million doses administered, according to Health Minister Greg Hunt.

Mr DeWine’s proposal inspired similar vaccine-incentive lotteries in Colorado, Maryland, New York state and Oregon.



This content first appear on 9news

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