Ohio doubles Vax-2-School prizes, will expand to ages 5 to 25 with FDA vaccine approval

Registration to open next week

Ohio is doubling the amount of Vax-2-School scholarships to $2 million total in prize money and will expand eligibility to ages 5 to 25 if the U.S. Food and Drug Administration authorizes the Pfizer vaccine for ages 5 to 11.

“We are hearing promising news following the clinical trial and safety data submitted to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration by Pfizer for their COVID-19 vaccine for 5- to 11-year-olds,” explained Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff. “In anticipation of a COVID-19 vaccine being authorized for children as young as 5 in the near future, we have decided to broaden the Ohio Vax-2-School program to include this age group, should they become eligible for vaccines.”

Currently only those 12 and older are eligible to be vaccinated.

Prizes will include 150 $10,000 scholarships and five $100,000, Vanderhoff said. Initially the program was offering five $100,000 scholarships and 50 $10,000 scholarships for resident ages 12 to 25.

Starting Monday, Ohioans can start to enter online at ohiovax2school.com or by calling 1-833-4-ASK-ODH (1-833-427-5634). Because ages 5 to 11 are not yet authorized to get vaccinated, registration is only open to those 12 to 25 at this time.

People should wait to enter until they’ve or their child has received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. The campaign is also open for those who have already been vaccinated.

“This is an opt-in program,” said Vanderhoff. “So if you’ve been vaccinated and want to enter, you must plan to do so.”

Those who previously entered the Vax-a-Million drawing, but did not win, will have to re-register for Vax-2-School on the new website.

Similar to Vax-a-Million, the 155 winners will be selected using a drawing through a random number generator, said Ohio Lottery Commission Director Pat McDonald.

“We had great success with Vax-a-Million, and we’re excited to assist the Department of Health again with this new initiative to help encourage younger Ohioans to get vaccinated,” he said.

The state is not announcing the deadline to register or when the first winners will be announced until there’s more information on the FDA’s timeline on the emergency use authorization of the Pfizer vaccine for ages 5 to 11, Vanderhoff said.

“We want to keep the window of opportunity as long as possible for this age group,” he said. “...This is an important age bracket for us to include in this effort. It really seemed prudent and right to give them a chance to participate.”

The ODH director said he expects the drawings will happen by the end of the year.

Last week Gov. Mike DeWine announced the program, which offers younger Ohioans who have received the COVID-19 vaccine a chance to win up to $100,000 in scholarships to put toward college or job training.

The program is being funded through federal COVID-19 relief appropriations.

The scholarships can be applied to a four-year or two-year Ohio college or university, graduate school, trade school or career program.

DeWine noted that age group has one of the lowest vaccination rates in the state.

“We know that eligible younger Ohioans have far lower vaccination rates,” DeWine said. “This age group has the most room to grow in terms of getting vaccinated.”

Vanderhoff said Friday he hopes the drawings will help younger Ohioans who are on the fence decide to get vaccinated sooner.

“We really want people to be encouraged to make that decision sooner rather than later,” he said.

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