Local state rep opposes Vax-2-School; urges passage of previously introduced bill

COLUMBUS — State Rep. Jena Powell (R-Arcanum) is opposing the Governor’s plan to introduce a COVID-19 vaccine incentive program that will provide 55 students in the state the opportunity to win scholarships for up to $100,000.

The Ohio Vax-2-School program was announced by the Governor and will be available for Ohioans ages 12 to 25 who have received their COVID-19 vaccinations.

>> DeWine announces Vax-2-school scholarship vaccine incentive program

The program will be similar to the state’s previous Vax-A-Million program. In the program, the state will give away five $100,000 scholarships and 50 $10,000 scholarships.

“The Governor’s first vaccine lottery, the Vax-a-Million, failed Ohioans. It was a frivolous waste of taxpayer dollars, and studies from around the country have proved what we claimed all along – the lottery did not result in a significant or substantial increase in Ohio’s vaccination rate,” Powell said Friday.

Gov. Mike DeWine disagrees and called Vax-a-Million a success in getting people to get their COVID-19 vaccines with the numbers of people getting shots once the program was announced going up. He thinks the same could happen with Vax-2-School.

“I think it’s got a good chance at working,” DeWine said.

A Harvard study published in the American Journal of Medicine found that “an additional 114,553 Ohioans received vaccinations as a result of the Vax-a-Million program.”

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“However, a majority of Ohioans remained unvaccinated by the end of the lottery, indicating that additional efforts are needed to address barriers to vaccination,” the Harvard study read.

Specific details about the Vax-2-School program will be announced in the coming days by the Ohio Lottery and the Ohio Department of Health, DeWine said.

Powell is the lead sponsor on a House bill (HB 329) that would “prohibit the state from conducting a lottery dependent on an individual’s COVID-19 vaccination status.”

The bill is still in the House Committee and has not been voted on, but following the latest vaccination incentive lottery, Powell is once again pushing for action from the Ohio legislature.

“Lotteries do not work. I again urge my colleagues to move forward and pass the Taxpayer Protection Against the Frivolous Vaccine Lottery Act, and to re-direct these funds to small-business COVID-19 relief grants and early childhood mental health,” Powell said.

House Bill 329 would have to pass both the House and Senate before being passed to DeWine for a possible signature.