Unclear whether VaxMillions increased vaccinations

State officials are trying to spin the VaxMillions Giveaway as a success, but it’s very hard to say whether the lottery game actually did what it was intended to do – prod more people to get vaccinated. 

The Baker administration points out that between the time the game was announced on June 15 through the final day of registration on August 19 over 318,000 residents received a first dose of the vaccine, and over 440,000 residents became fully vaccinated.

But what impact the lottery game, whose $10 million cost was paid for using federal COVID funds, had on individual vaccination decisions is unclear. Of course, people got inoculated during that time period, but we don’t know if the game impacted the decision to get vaccinated to any significant degree. 

VaxMillions shut down on Thursday after the latest winners were announced. Cynthia Thirath of Leominster won the $1 million prize for fully vaccinated people 18 and over. Gretchen Selva of Conway won the $300,000 scholarship available to fully vaccinated individuals between 12 and 17. 

Both Thirath and Selva were vaccinated prior to the lottery game being unveiled, so the game itself had no impact on their decisions. The same was true of the previous eight winners.

Gov. Charlie Baker issued a statement on Thursday praising the lottery game, and Treasurer Deborah Goldberg, who chairs the Massachusetts State Lottery Commission, was even more emphatic. “This did in fact encourage thousands who were not yet vaccinated, and at the end of the day that is a win/win for everyone,” she said.

The pace of vaccinations actually slowed after the VaxMillions game was announced. In the four weeks before VaxMillions was announced on June 15, the state was averaging between 21,249 and 42,189 shots a day. After the announcement, the average daily number of shots dropped sharply, hitting a low of 7,596 a day during the week of July 14-20. Over the next four weeks, vaccinations rose, hitting 8,793 during the week of August 11-17.

Clearly, the Baker administration’s vaccine strategy shifted while VaxMillions was being played. When Baker launched the lottery game, his administration was in encouragement mode, urging Massachusetts residents to get vaccinated to protect their health and the health of those they come in contact with. The governor has since shifted to mandate mode, ordering state employees to get vaccinated or face dismissal or disciplinary action and encouraging the private sector to do the same.

BRUCE MOHL

FROM COMMONWEALTH

 

Sex assault allegations settled: The city of Boston paid $650,000 to settle a federal lawsuit brought by five parents who alleged that the Mission Hill K-8 Pilot School in Jamaica Plain failed to protect their daughters from sexual assault and harassment. The lawsuit targeted Ayla Givens, who was the superintendent in 2015 and 2016 when the incidents occurred, for ignoring pleas for help from the girls’ parents and firing a teacher who disobeyed orders and reported some of the incidents to the Department of Children and Families. Read more.

OPINION

Boston must lead: Drs. Jarone Lee, Ray Liu, Gaurab Basu, and Natalia Linos say climate change is a health issue and Boston must play a lead role in addressing it. They call for zero emissions by 2040, ahead of the state’s goal of 2050, and endorse Michelle Wu as the candidate for mayor who can get the job done. Read more.

 

FROM AROUND THE WEB

 

MUNICIPAL MATTERS  

Acting Mayor Kim Janey scrapped the Downtown Municipal Harbor Plan governing waterfront development in Boston, dealing a major blow to developer Don Chiofaro’s plans for a 600-foot tower adjacent to the New England Aquarium. (Boston Globe

Janey said she’s bolstering Boston’s public records department in the face of a lawsuit from Attorney General Maura Healey and criticism from city councilors over the administration’s frequent snubbing of public records laws. (Boston Herald)

HEALTH/HEALTH CARE

Cooley Dickinson Hospital in Northampton names Lynette Watkins as its new president and CEO. (Daily Hampshire Gazette)

Brockton area medical centers are not yet requiring employees to be vaccinated against COVID, but are considering such a move. (The Enterprise

WASHINGTON/NATIONAL/INTERNATIONAL

President Biden pledges to strike back after an attack kills 13 US service members in Kabul. (NPR) The top US military commander overseeing operations in Afghanistan said more attacks from the Islamic State, which claimed responsibility for the two suicide bombings at the Kabul airport, are expected. (Washington Post

The US Supreme Court blocks President Bidern’s eviction ban. (Associated Press)

In an interview with the New York Times, 83-year-old Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer, the leader of the court’s liberal wing, said he’s mulling the issue of retirement, doesn’t want to stay until he dies, and endorsed the sentiment of the late justice Antonin Scalia, who once said he didn’t want to be replaced by someone who would reverse all his decisions of the past 25 years.  

ELECTIONS

A new Emerson College/7News poll of the Boston mayor’s race shows Michelle Wu in the lead with 24 percent support, with the three other women candidates bunched fairly tightly behind her, with Annissa Essaibi George at 18 percent, Kim Janey at 16 percent, and Andrea Campbell at 14 percent. John Barros, who has struggled to gain traction, was at 2 percent. The top two finishers in the September 14 preliminary election advance to the November final election. (Boston Globe)

The Globe continues its profiles of mayoral candidates with a look at Kim Janey, a one-time community organizer thrust into the acting mayor’s post by the resignation of Marty Walsh. 

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

Danone, the parent company of Horizon Organic milk, cancels supply contracts with dairy farmers in Vermont, New Hampshire, and New York and decides to pull most of its supply from larger farms in the Midwest. (Associated Press)

EDUCATION

The Berkshire Hills Regional School District School Committee bars a Great Barrington resident from speaking against a mask mandate. School Committee member Richard Dohoney said the person was going “to propagate an absurd disinformation campaign.” (Berkshire Eagle)

MEDIA

The German media conglomerate Axel Springer SE strikes a deal to buy Politico for more than $1 billion. (Nieman Journalism Lab)