COLUMBUS, Ohio — In an effort to raise the vaccination rates among the youngest eligible Ohioans, Governor Mike DeWine announced Thursday the “Ohio Vax-to-School” program which will offer a total of $1 million worth of scholarships to 55 vaccinated Ohio residents aged 12 to 25.
Vaccinated Ohioans in that age range can enter a drawing to win one of five $100,000 scholarships or one of 50 $10,000 scholarships, DeWine announced during a news conference Thursday afternoon.
These scholarships can be applied to a wide range of educational endeavors, including college expenses, technical education, job training, and post-graduate education.
“The opportunities are endless,” DeWine said.
The “Vax-to-School” program will be executed in concert with the Ohio Lottery, similarly to Ohio’s “Vax-a-Million” lottery that was run by the state government earlier this year. The details on how to enter the “Vax-to-School” program will be released next week by the Ohio Lottery, DeWine said.
The program will be funded through existing coronavirus pandemic accommodations, DeWine said.
DeWine noted that the “Vax-to-School” program will be open to anyone in that age group who has received their vaccination by the time they enter, not just those who receive the vaccine now.
DeWine said the decision was made to target Ohioans aged 12 to 25 with this new incentive program because vaccination rates are the lowest among these school-aged children, and because the delta variant is causing increasing infections and hospitalizations among this group, causing additional burden to the state’s already-strained hospital system.
Ohioans older than primary school-age, up to 25, were included in the program so that non-traditional college students and post-graduate students would also have the opportunity to benefit, and because vaccination rates are also low in that age group, DeWine said.
The percent of Ohio residents aged 12 to 25 who have received at least their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine is 46% statewide, compared to a 73% rate in those over 40 and 84% in those 65 and older, DeWine said.
“Also know there are many, many communities across Ohio for that age group, 12-25, that is vastly below 46%,” he added. “This age group has the most room to grow.”
DeWine also noted that hospital leaders across the state have been sounding the alarm as younger patients are filling hospitals and ICUs with delta variant infections. He provided the example of hospitals in Fulton County, where more younger patients are forcing nurses to work longer hours, causing some to leave the field altogether.
Aside from increased protection against becoming infected with COVID, DeWine said that vaccinating as many students as possible is the best way to keep them learning in person, as vaccinated students do not have to quarantine after being exposed to COVID.
“That is the ticket,” DeWine said.
Visit our Vaccinating Ohio page for the latest updates on Ohio's vaccination program, including links to sign up for a vaccine appointment, a map of nearby vaccination sites, a detailed breakdown of the state's current vaccine phase, and continuing local coverage of COVID-19 vaccines in Northeast Ohio.
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