By J.D. Miles

DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – It’s a controversial idea but Dallas County is considering it to help increase the number of people vaccinated.

Cash and other prizes could be offered to those who have yet to receive their first COVID-19 shot.

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To date, only 55% of residents have received their first shot. Now county leaders will look into whether it can legally hold raffles or lotteries to boost vaccination rates.

“I don’t know whether it will work or not but I think it’s worth exploring,” Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins said.

Jenkins said it could include using some federal COVID-19 relief money.

“If we are able to, it might be a good use of public money. We are either going to spend it on an ad campaign to encourage people to make a good choice or you’re going to spend to in cent either way,” Jenkins said.

The state of Ohio has already started a weekly million-dollar lottery exclusively for entrants who agree to be vaccinated. It led to a 43% increase.

But Dallas County Commissioner J.J. Koch said he opposes any incentive program here that uses tax payer money.

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“I also think there’s a moral issue with this as well. I think people who are thinking this through are thinking through the medical decision and to throw something frivolous like a lottery into that medical decision really kind of infantilizes folks… turns them back into big kids saying, ‘Hey listen you’re not good at making your own decisions, here’s some free candy,'” Koch said.

Resident David Feldman said a lottery will never motivate him to get a current COVID-19 vaccine.

“I figure it’s not approved by the FDA yet. Why should I be a test dummy for it,” Feldman said. “… I think if people wanna do it, they’ll do it. If not, why try and bribe them to do it.”

Another resident, Jeremy Morrison, said he’s been vaccinated and would be open to prizes for others who haven’t been.

“I think to push us forward to that critical level where we reach herd immunity, I think something has to be done and the lottery might be a good way to do it,” Morrison said.

There’s no indication the state of Texas will create or support any vaccination program with a financial incentive.

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The Dallas County District Attorney’s Office said it will help with the legal questions once the commissioners court is ready to present a plan.