Vaccinations see 8% weekend bump since first Comeback Cash winner announced

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DENVER (KDVR) — It may not be a lot, but there is a connection between vaccine incentives and upticks in vaccine rates.

Over the course of late spring, Gov. Jared Polis has made three announcements to attract Coloradans to get COVID vaccines.

The announcements, especially the most recent, respond in part to a drop-off in vaccine rates. Most of Colorado’s at-risk populations in older age groups sought the vaccines aggressively once it was available, then demand petered out.  

Vaccine demand has been falling from a peak in April and now sits at the lowest levels since January. As of June 7, there were an average 17,400 daily vaccinations, which matches the average from Jan. 21.

Each announcement came on a Friday, and each time vaccine rates rose during the following weekend. The number of daily vaccinations is still low, but did see a slight rise after the first Comeback Cash award was announced June 4. The lottery will draw five $1 million prizes from a pool of all vaccine recipients in Colorado.

On June 4, providers shot 16,000 arms with a COVID vaccine. On June 7, that rose to 17,357, an 8% increase.

This small increase may not be shooting Colorado vaccinations back to their previous peak, but it does suggest Polis’ efforts to encourage vaccinations are having some effect.

State officials announced the Comeback Cash lottery on May 25.

The governor and state health department officials warned the public that there likely would not be any immediate impact considering Memorial Day weekend. Indeed, there was no impact on vaccination rates until after Colorado announced the first Comeback Cash winner on June 4.

There have been two other notable upticks in vaccinations rates.

The first, a 2% increase, happened from May 1 to May 4. That weekend followed an April 30 announcement by Polis that masks would not be required in public indoor spaces where 80% of the people present had could prove they were fully vaccinated.

The second bump followed a similar announcement on May 14. Polis announced that fully vaccinated Coloradans are no longer required to wear masks in most situations. The state saw daily vaccinations increase 9% over the following weekend.

Vaccine lotteries haven’t yet created long-term vaccination rate upswells in the dozen states that have started them, but Polis said nobody expected that in the first place. Instead, he insisted keeping the trendline up was the goal.

Last weekend’s bump would be a success by that measure, particularly if the next four weekends follow the same pattern.

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