Dave & Dujanovic: $1M vaccine lottery in Utah?

May 20, 2021, 5:00 PM
CHICAGO, IL - DECEMBER 13: A sign advertising the Mega Millions lottery jackpot hangs in a convenience store on December 13, 2013 in Chicago, Illinois. Tonight's Mega Millions jackpot will be an estimated $425 million, the second-largest jackpot in the history of the game. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
(Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY — Is a vaccine lottery possible in Utah? Hey, it’s working in Ohio. 

Ohio state health officials said Monday that more than 25,400 Covid-19 vaccine shots were administered Friday, two days after a $5 million lottery to encourage vaccinations was announced, making it the highest vaccination day in three weeks. Vaccinations for residents ages 30 to 74 spiked by 6 percent after weeks of steady decline, according to NBC News.

Rep. Brian King on a vaccine lottery in Utah

Utah Rep. Brian King of Salt Lake City and state Sen. Dan McCay, who represents Bluffdale, Draper, Herriman, Lehi, Riverton and Sandy, joined Dave & Dujanovic this week to talk about whether they would vote for a lottery incentive here in the Beehive State.

“What do you think about vaccine incentives, and specifically, the million dollar lottery that Ohio is doing? Could this be something we jump on board with?” host Dave Noriega asked.

“When we’re talking about life saving vaccines, I sort of think, oh, come on, let’s not degrade the science associated with it. Let’s not use gimmicks,” King said. “But on the other hand, I think you can make a pretty good argument to say, hey, it doesn’t matter how you induce people to end up getting vaccinated, what’s important is that they do get vaccinated. Right?

“This herd immunity stuff means that you’ve got to have certain levels of people within the community who are vaccinated and immune. And so a big part of me says, if there are some people that are going to be reached by the prospect of a lottery ticket that could get them a million dollars or half a million dollars or something like that, more power to those state policymakers that are in a position to try to make sure that the greatest number of Utahns get vaccinated,” King said.

What about the variants?

“One of the things that we’re all concerned about are these variants. To the extent that the variants are coming up quickly and commonly imperils and puts at risk everybody’s vaccinations, because you never know when one of these variants is not going to — that the vaccinations that we’ve received to this point are not going to be effective for a variant,” King said.

Sen. Dan McKay on a vaccine lottery in Utah

“Is there money out there to entice, to encourage people — maybe that million dollar lottery that Ohio’s doing — to get people vaccinated. Is there any appetite in the Utah State Legislature to do an incentive like that?” Dave asked.

“Well first, we can agree on one thing: an incentive is far better — you know carrots are always better than sticks, right?” McKay said, “unless they’re stewed carrots at which point I’d probably rather eat a stick. 

“The difficulty really comes into constitutional prohibitions. I know this sounds weird, but we actually have a constitutional prohibition against gambling in the state. . . . I’ve run a bill the last couple years trying to allow charities to have a raffle, and even that we have constitutional problems with,” McKay said.

Other incentives?

“You might be willing to offer cash payments to people,” McKay said. “You know, hey $50 if you’re willing to get a vaccine. I think that would certainly help with our college age students. . . . The lottery does make me feel a little bit nervous really from a participation standpoint, but I’m not saying no.”

Show me the money

“There’s money out there, right?” Dave asked. “I mean we were spending billions and trillions, like gobbling up 10 million somewhere. We would be able to find it right?”

“You know absolutely the worst case scenario would be if somehow a legislator won. . . .  think about the drama of that. We’d have to be ineligible,” the senator said. “But that being said, we have money, and honestly, the federal government has made money available so that we can be offering or working on programs to institute vaccinations. I’m certain that we can find the million bucks.”


Masks in schools debate makes the special session agenda

Dave & Dujanovic can be heard weekdays from 9 a.m. to noon. on KSL NewsRadio. Users can find the show on the KSL NewsRadio website and app, a.s well as Apple Podcasts and Google Play.  

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Dave & Dujanovic: $1M vaccine lottery in Utah?