As you probably know, New Hampshire was a leader in the lottery game, approving the nation’s first state-run lottery in 1964, back when tickets cost $3 and the winning number was based on horse race results at Rockingham Park.
With the rate of COVID-19 vaccinations starting to stall, it’s time for us to be a lottery leader again.
Well, almost a leader: Ohio beat us to it. That state has launched a lottery with the great name of Vax-a-Million. If you’re a vaccinated Ohio resident you can enter it and win big in weekly drawings, from a million bucks to a college scholarship.
New Hampshire should absolutely do the same.
To truly boost our good-but-not-good-enough vaccination rate, we shouldn’t waste our time with small bribes like Maine’s $20 L.L. Bean gift card. That won’t convince the vaccine-hesitant the way a lottery will, because a lottery uses the same flawed logic that keeps people from getting the shot in the first place.
The flaw? Human beings are very poor at judging relative risk.
We’re scared of shark attacks and airplane crashes but don’t think twice about zipping around inside metal boxes carrying 100 pounds of explosive liquid. Similarly, some people are hesitant about getting a COVID-19 vaccine because of incredibly rare side effects or less-than-perfect results, even though they don’t think twice about exposing themselves to a global pandemic that has killed more people that live in all of northern New England and is still raging around the world.
In short, many vaccine-hesitant people exaggerate the risk of the shot and downplay the reward.
Lotteries succeed because of a flipped version of that same flaw: We mentally exaggerate the reward of winning and downplay the risk of wasting money. The odds are that you are never, ever going to win Powerball but that doesn’t stop you from buying tickets, does it?
So let’s get to it, New Hampshire, and launch the Granite Gamma Globulin Giveaway lottery. Show your vaccine card and get a chance to win a million bucks, with the winner’s name drawn live on WMUR by an emergency room nurse wearing full PPE as local boy Steven Tyler sings a rewrite of Aerosmith’s biggest hit, titled “Shot This Way.”
We’d have herd immunity in a month!
On a more serious note, COVID-19 hasn’t gone away even though it’s continuing to improve in the state.