“This is not just to go to college,” the governor said. “You can go and do anything that’s improving your education and helping you get a better job.”
The program will be similar to the Vax-a-Million campaign that ran for five weeks earlier this year. Vax-a-Million awarded five $1 million prizes to adults and five full college scholarships to juveniles who had started the vaccine series.
The state chose 25 for the cutoff age for Vax to School to included college students, non-traditional students and those seeks post-graduate studies, DeWine said.
Winners will be selected with a random drawing. Those ages 12 to 25 who have already been vaccinated are eligible to win, he said.
The Ohio Lottery and Ohio Department of Health will release more information about the Vax to School program in the next week.
The vaccination program focuses on younger Ohioans, which have some of the state’s lowest vaccination rates.
About 73% of Ohioans 40 and older have received at least one dose of the COVID vaccine, DeWine said. But only roughly 43% of those 12 to 25 have started the vaccine.
“We know that eligible younger Ohioans have far lower vaccination rates,” the governor said. “This age group has the most room to grow in terms of getting vaccinated.”
The state is also concerned about Ohioans in that age group missing in-school learning.
“Keeping our children in school in person is a top priority for this state,” DeWine said.
The state’s 27-day period with the highest number of COVID-19 cases in children ages 5 to 17 have all been since students returned to school this year, DeWine said. Since Aug. 15, more than 42,000 confirmed and probable COVID cases have been reported in that same age group, he said.
Getting vaccinated against COVID will also help relieve a strain placed on hospitals due to an increase in COVID and other respiratory viruses, as well as a staffing shortage.
“The vast majority of that strain is preventable, and it can be prevented simply by vaccinations,” DeWine said.