"Since Aug. 15, there have been more than 42,000 confirmed or probable cases of Covid among school-age kids in Ohio ages 5-17," Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine said today. "The 27 days with the highest number of cases per day throughout our entire pandemic for children ages 5-17 have been since school began."
Citing those stats, alarms raised by children's hospitals throughout Ohio in the recent week, and a comparatively low rate of vaccination for younger Ohioans, DeWine today announced the state of Ohio will debut a new incentive — Vax-to-School.
Much like Ohio's Vax-a-Million program, the new offering is a lottery and will give out five $100,000 scholarships and 50 $10,000 scholarships to winners that can be used for Ohio colleges or universities, job training, technical schooling, or any sort of education.
Ohioans ages 12-25 will qualify to enter.
"We've done very well in vaccinating Ohio's older adult population. The percentage of Ohioans over the age of 40 is 73%. If we go to 65 and older, that number is 84%. Both are pretty good numbers," he said. "If you look at younger Ohioans, we don't find such good news. The rate of first dose for Ohioans ages 12 to 25 is just 46% statewide, and we know there are many, many communities across Ohio where that number for that age group is vastly below 46%."
It's the age group with the most room to grow, but beyond that, DeWine said the impetus was keeping kids in school.
"Keeping our kids in school, in person, is a top priority for this state," he said. "It's so very, very important, and the best way for those 12 and above, the best way to stay in school is become vaccinated. Students who are vaccinated don't have to quarantine when they're exposed. It's the ticket, it means they don't have to miss school."
DeWine said the program will be run through the Ohio Lottery with more details to follow soon.