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Kent Co. sees slight uptick in vaccination rate during vaccine sweepstakes

This increase comes after a significant slowdown early this summer.

More than 1.7 million people have entered the state's vaccine lottery since it began July 1. The MI Shot to Win Sweepstakes hopes that daily cash prizes of $50,000 will push people to get their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. 

The first winner's in the lottery were announced Wednesday, July 14, including a Wyoming woman. Each took home a $50,000 cash prize.

"Any new people to get vaccinated in this time period is a win," Protect Michigan Commission Director Kerry Ebersole Singh says.

The first four winners are part of about 16,000 people who have entered for the daily drawings since the start of the month after getting their first dose. 

"By and large, the average is about 1,200 folks for the daily drawings," she says. "That's a 1 in 1,200 chance of winning $50,000."

In Kent County, Epidemiologist Brian Hartl with the health department says they've seen a slight uptick in vaccinations since the Fourth of July holiday weekend. This comes after a significant slowdown early this summer.

"We do a seven day average, probably increasing by 15 to 20 new vaccines each day," he says. "It's not a huge spike but every little bit counts."

He's not sure whether to owe the increase to the sweepstakes or to the spread of the Delta variant of COVID-19. 

"The news of the Delta variant may be spurring people to choose to get vaccinated if they were on the fence about getting it before," Hartl says. "We know the variant is spreading more in the state."

The sweepstakes hopes to get 70% of Michiganders 16 and older to get the shot as soon as possible. Right now, the state sits at about a 62% vaccination rate.

Hartl says some health officials had a feeling that the last stretch would be the hardest even with an incentive.

"In a way it's not surprising to me that we're not seeing an influx of people because we knew this group of people would be harder to reach," he says.

In Ohio, an American Medical Association study found that their vaccination rate didn't increase because of their lottery announcement in May, but their rate just didn't slow as much as it did across the country.

Ebersole Singh says it'll take time to tell how the sweepstakes will play out for Michigan. 

"Getting folks vaccinated will keep us moving forward in our war against the coronavirus," she says.  

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