In an effort to get Philadelphia residents vaccinated against COVID-19, the city launched a vaccination raffle that awarded residents random prizes of $ 1,000 to $ 50,000 for obtaining the vaccine.
However, researchers at the University of Pennsylvania published an article in the Social Science Research Network earlier this week that showed the incentive lottery was unsuccessful.
They analyzed how the lottery, called the Philly Vax Sweepstakes, influenced vaccination rates in the city compared to neighboring counties that did not offer the incentives. They found no evidence of a significant increase in vaccinations in Philadelphia County.
“Overall, the results of our experience suggest that regret lotteries may not be a reliable means an effective tool for policy makers who hope to encourage vaccination at this phase of a population-wide vaccine deployment ”, the research paper read.
The Philly Vax contest was launched on June 7 and there were drawings on June 21, July 6 and July 19. The city produced the designs in partnership with Penn’s Wharton School of Business.
Philly Vax Sweepstakes used a Regret Lottery, which meant that ineligible people were included in the pool they chose from. If an unvaccinated person was selected, they were still notified that they could have won if they had been vaccinated.
The raffle also increased the odds of winning for some postcodes with low immunization rates.
At the end of the draw, 73,865 people registered for the draw.
The researchers found zip codes where residents were 80 times more likely to win cash prizes, residents were no more likely to be vaccinated than other zip codes.
“I’m not going to lie, it was disappointing,” Philadelphia Department of Public Health spokesperson Jim Garrow told KYW. “We continue to raise awareness and try to find other incentive programs. For each person, it can be something different.
The researchers said a few factors might have influenced residents better, including higher financial reward, better marketing, and starting the lottery earlier.
As of August 20, 78.8% of eligible adults have received at least one injection of the vaccine, while 64.4% are fully immunized.
Amid the wave of the Delta Variant, city officials are scrambling to develop new ways to get more residents vaccinated. The authors of the article said they analyzed the Philly Vax competition to better inform future incentive programs.