COLUMBUS, Ohio — Gov. Mike DeWine is using a new incentive to boost vaccination rates.
Three months after his Vax-a-Million program popularized the concept of vaccine incentives throughout the nation, DeWine announced late Wednesday he’s offering state employees $100 to get vaccinated. Spouses would get $25.
The program comes as vaccination rates in the state have stalled among spiking cases and hospitalizations.
“Vaccines are the most effective strategy at stopping the spread of COVID-19 and preventing serious illness,” DeWine said.
Only about 5.4 million people or 46% of the population have completed the vaccination process as of Thursday, according to the Ohio Department of Health.
The seven-day rolling average of daily new cases in Ohio has risen over the past two weeks from 319.43 new cases per day on July 13 to 874.57 new cases per day on July 27, according to data collected by the Johns Hopkins University Center for Systems Science and Engineering.
DeWine said Monday that 99% of the 17,129 Ohioans hospitalized for COVID-19 since January were unvaccinated.
DeWine’s goal is for Ohio to vaccinate about 1 million more people, which would give the state a greater than 70% vaccination rate, he said earlier this month.
On Monday, Ohio Chief Medical Officer Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff warned that contracting COVID-19 in the near future is inevitable for all Ohioans who are not protected. He said vaccination, as well as masks, are the best ways for residents to keep themselves and their families safe during this surge.
Also Monday, the Ohio Department of Health issued recommendations for masks in school. While the state doesn’t plan to mandate masks in schools this fall, health officials strongly recommend them for students and staff.
Several colleges and school districts have already announced mask and COVID-19 vaccine policies. Most of them are requiring masks for all students and staff regardless of vaccination status.
Some colleges, like Cleveland State University, are requiring students living on campus to get the vaccine, whereas places, like Ohio State, are mandating students and staff to report their vaccination status.
Most colleges are not requiring students to be vaccinated but it’s strongly encouraged.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.