Has Newsom’s California COVID Vaccine Lottery Increased Doses? – .

Has Newsom’s California COVID Vaccine Lottery Increased Doses? – .

After a steep and sustained decline, California’s COVID-19 vaccination rate rose significantly earlier this month, outpacing inoculation trends across much of the country, according to a Los Angeles Times data analysis.
The recent increase in vaccinations in the Golden State is a silver lining that comes as officials confirmed on Tuesday that the nation is unlikely to meet President Biden’s target of giving at least one dose to 70% of adults Americans by July 4. California is one of 16 states, along with the District of Columbia, that have met that goal, but it will take a few more weeks after July 4 for the nation as a whole to meet the benchmark.

California has long been a leader in immunization. But the surge in recent weeks suggests that Governor Gavin Newsom’s elaborate – and, in some corners, ridiculed – program of offering cash prizes to those who have been vaccinated may have reaped rewards.

While it’s impossible to say for sure why every resident decided to be vaccinated, the timing is nonetheless striking, and some suggest that the state’s $ 116.5 million incentive program has likely sparked a surge in funding. interest in injections.

“I guess the lottery works,” UC San Francisco epidemiologist Dr George Rutherford said in a recent online forum, later adding in an interview, “I think we have some evidence. that it had an impact. “

In late May and early June, the average daily number of doses administered in California over a weekly period fell to a low of about 120,000, a dramatic drop from a peak of over 400,000 doses per day in early April.

Faced with this sharp drop, the state has tried a new tactic to tempt those still on the fence: the prospect of hard money.

“You have seen a drop in [the] total number of people vaccinated. Efforts have been made in states, large and small, to stem this by making incentives, cash prizes. California was no different, ”Newsom said last week.

But, he continued, “We are the greatest state. And so we have the biggest gifts in cash. “

Newsom disclosed the details on May 27: In a series of raffles running through June, 30 Californians would win $ 50,000 each and 10 would win grand prizes of $ 1.5 million each.

Two million $ 50 gift cards were also made available to residents who received their first dose effective the day the lottery was announced.

The selection of the winners took on a game show feel – with catchy music, lottery-style sweepstakes, oversized checks and confetti drops.

The show peaked in California on June 15, when the grand prize winners were chosen at Universal Studios Hollywood under the gaze of reporters, tourists, and costumed movie characters such as Minions, Trolls, Shrek, and Optimus Prime.

Similar programs have been successful elsewhere. Ohio’s Vax-a-Million Lottery Program, which offered $ 1 million in prizes and full four-year college scholarships to those vaccinated, resulted in a 55% increase in adult vaccination rates in their twenties, thirties and forties in the days that followed. the program has been announced, the White House said.

Some skeptics, however, have questioned the effectiveness and wisdom of such incentive programs.

Political opponents have also dismissed Newsom’s flashy giveaways as little more than attempts to distract from his upcoming recall election or bolster support at taxpayer expense.

But did it work?

The Times analyzed immunization data from the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to determine the average number of doses administered daily by California during the weeks of May 27 to June 2 and June 3 to June 9, then a calculated the percentage change.

California administered an average of 121,000 doses per day the first week and about 161,000 doses per day the following week, an increase of 33%.

Only five states saw a larger percentage increase in vaccinations given period over time: Montana, Utah, Georgia, South Carolina and New Hampshire.

Comparatively, the average daily number of vaccinations nationwide increased by about 14% in those two weeks, according to the Times analysis.

For the most recent seven-day period in which vaccination figures are relatively reliable, between June 6 and 12, an average of 132,000 doses per day were administered – a decrease from the peak but still more high only in late May and early June.

More recent figures are not as reliable as it may take several days for the state to receive information on all recent doses administered.

“These incentives have worked,” Newsom said at a press conference last week at Six Flags Magic Mountain.

Until now, the California vaccination pace trendline has looked like one of the famous theme park roller coasters. There was a steady rise from mid-December to early April, followed by a drop.

Aside from the recent bump, the only other temporary reversal came as the statewide vaccine eligibility pool expanded to include residents as young as 12 years old.

California has one of the highest vaccination rates in the country, with 73% of adults – and 57% of residents of all ages – vaccinated with at least one dose, according to data compiled by The Times.

However, officials have long noted that progress is not uniform across the state.

In particular, a significant number of Latino and black Californians remain unvaccinated. Only 41% of black and Latino residents of California are at least partially vaccinated, compared to 54% of Native Americans, 56% of whites, and 69% of residents of Asian and Pacific Islander origin.

Concerns have also been expressed that low vaccination rates in parts of rural northern California or the Central Valley could make these areas vulnerable to future outbreaks.

“It’s, in fact, now an unvaccinated people pandemic,” Los Angeles County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said on Monday.

But some experts say it’s also important to take naturally-acquired immunity into account when assessing the risk of future flare-ups.

Having a history of a high number of cases “means there are likely high levels of naturally acquired immunity,” Rutherford said.

Tests done on Californians in May to find out if they had antibodies to the coronavirus – due to a vaccination or surviving an infection – found that 76.6% of state residents had such antibodies, according to an analysis released by the state Department of Public Health.

It was as high as 86.5% in the southern border region which includes the counties of San Diego and Imperial and 80.5% in an area which includes the Bay Area and the counties of Monterey and Santa Cruz, and as low as 54.4% in rural northern California.

Rates were also relatively high in an area including Orange County, the Inland Empire and Owens Valley, where 76.8% of those tested had antibodies; and in the San Joaquin Valley, 76.3%. In LA County, the Central Coast and the Greater Sacramento area, between 70% and 74% of those tested had antibodies.

Experts estimate that 70% to 85% of a population must have some degree of protection against the coronavirus for a region to achieve “herd immunity” or “community immunity”, in which a disease is effectively deprived of. opportunities to move from one person to another. person, putting a lid on epidemics and helping to protect even those who are not vaccinated or have weakened immune systems.

However, others warn that it is not clear how long a previously infected person remains immune. Government health officials have said that immunity to vaccinations is better and longer lasting than immunity to infection.

Ferrer guessed that LA County would get collective immunity when 80% of residents 16 and older were vaccinated. Currently, 67% of residents in this age group are vaccinated and authorities – for now – predict that the county could reach the herd immunity threshold by the end of the summer.

“For people who have been sick before, that natural immunity will weaken and they have to come in and get vaccinated,” Ferrer said. “So the numbers that we always see are, in fact… what percentage of our population has been vaccinated. “

Reaching that level, however, remains a tall order – a challenge that officials recognize will likely require individualized attention from holdouts.

But there are always incentives. California still offers the chance to win one of six vacation packages to destinations such as Disneyland, a spa in Palm Springs, San Diego for surf lessons, a Giants game in San Francisco, and floor seats for one. Lakers game.

Various other freebies including free food and tickets to Six Flags parks are also up for grabs.

“We will continue to promote the incentives as long as they work,” Newsom said.

Lin reported from San Francisco, Money and Stiles from Southern California.


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