Vaccinations slow despite Vax Giveaway

Unclear whether game is swaying those reluctant to get vaccinated

DESPITE THE LURE of millions of dollars in prize money with the Massachusetts Vax Millions Giveaway, the number of people getting vaccinated against COVID-19 in Massachusetts keeps dropping.

In the most recent weekly count ending July 6, the number fell to 7,957 a day, down from 12,126 a day the week before and 15,859 the week before that, just after Gov. Charlie Baker announced the lottery on June 15.

The most recent week included the July 4 holiday, when vaccinations plummeted, so there is still hope the incentive can pick up some steam before the first drawing on July 26. Still, the slow pace is concerning since it takes time to get the two-dose vaccines; anyone just starting the Moderna vaccine has already missed qualifying for the first three prize drawings and Pfizer recipients have already missed the deadline for two of the drawings. The single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine can be obtained any time before a drawing.

Prizes of $1 million will be given away each week starting July 26 and ending on August 23. The Giveaway also offers $300,000 in scholarship money each week to anyone in the 12-17 age category.

The Vax Millions Giveaway is free to join for anyone who has been vaccinated. The odds of winning one of the prizes are better than with most Massachusetts Lottery games, but it’s unclear whether the mere chance of winning big will be enough to incentivize people who have been reluctant to get vaccinated to go ahead and get the shot.

Meet the Author

Bruce Mohl

Editor, CommonWealth

About Bruce Mohl

Bruce Mohl is the editor of CommonWealth magazine. Bruce came to CommonWealth from the Boston Globe, where he spent nearly 30 years in a wide variety of positions covering business and politics. He covered the Massachusetts State House and served as the Globe’s State House bureau chief in the late 1980s. He also reported for the Globe’s Spotlight Team, winning a Loeb award in 1992 for coverage of conflicts of interest in the state’s pension system. He served as the Globe’s political editor in 1994 and went on to cover consumer issues for the newspaper. At CommonWealth, Bruce helped launch the magazine’s website and has written about a wide range of issues with a special focus on politics, tax policy, energy, and gambling. Bruce is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He lives in Dorchester.

About Bruce Mohl

Bruce Mohl is the editor of CommonWealth magazine. Bruce came to CommonWealth from the Boston Globe, where he spent nearly 30 years in a wide variety of positions covering business and politics. He covered the Massachusetts State House and served as the Globe’s State House bureau chief in the late 1980s. He also reported for the Globe’s Spotlight Team, winning a Loeb award in 1992 for coverage of conflicts of interest in the state’s pension system. He served as the Globe’s political editor in 1994 and went on to cover consumer issues for the newspaper. At CommonWealth, Bruce helped launch the magazine’s website and has written about a wide range of issues with a special focus on politics, tax policy, energy, and gambling. Bruce is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He lives in Dorchester.

To win $1 million in one of the state’s Lottery games, the odds range from one in 5 million for some scratch ticket games to one in 13 million for Mega Millions. The precise odds for the Vax Millions game depend on how many people sign up, but even if everyone eligible signs up the odds of winning a $1 million prize will be about one in just over 4 million. The odds are much better for winning the scholarships because much fewer people in the 12-17 age category have been vaccinated. 

In a radio interview last Tuesday, Treasurer Deborah Goldberg, who oversees the state Lottery and the Giveaway, said 1.8 million people had signed up for the Giveaway, including about 80,000 in the 12-17 age category. “These odds are really good right now,” Goldberg told Bloomberg Radio.