Indiana Governor is not interested in a COVID-19 vaccine lottery

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INDIANAPOLIS — The chance Indiana will offer any kind of cash for getting vaccinated is slim. Though our neighbors in Ohio are running a COVID-19 vaccine lottery, Governor Eric Holcomb said he doesn’t support the idea here.

“We’ve taken a different approach,” said Gov. Holcomb.

He wants every Hoosier to get the COVID-19 vaccine but said creating a lottery for a shot makes him uncomfortable.

“Some people will never get vaccinated and some people might wait until they waited for that monetary enticement, so I don’t want folks to wait,” said Holcomb. “I want to do everything we can as a state to make it easy. It’s obviously free to get vaccinated so we all get through this as soon as possible.”

Marion County Health Director Dr. Virginia Caine said she supports cash incentives, especially one coming from the state.

“I wouldn’t mind Gov. Holcomb offering $5 million in some kind of lottery that people who are vaccinated that could be some kind of incentive for them,” said Dr. Caine.

About 38 percent of Marion County is fully vaccinated. More than 300,000 people have gotten the shot there. South of Marion in Johnson County, 54,000 have been fully vaccinated.

“The numbers in Johnson County are disappointing,” said Johnson County Health Department Director Betsy Swearingen. “I would like to see all of the residents of Johnson County think long and deep and hard and do the right thing and come and get vaccinated.”

But Swearingen does not believe a lottery is appropriate to bring those numbers up.

“I think those people that want and need the vaccine are doing just that and it is readily available. I don’t know why we have to pay people to take a vaccine, they should just do it because it’s the right thing to do and it’s the best for our community,” said Swearingen.

Holcomb said the state will continue pushing that message.

“I’ve taken an approach to try to entice people by making it convenient to get vaccinated and can appeal to their better senses about this is how we can all get through this quicker,” said Holcomb.

The governor said he doesn’t see himself changing his mind about the way Indiana will incentivize the vaccine but if matters drastically decline he said we’ll cross that bridge if we get to it.

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