Free baseball, beer and cash: Should people be bribed to get Covid vaccinations?

·3 min read
<p>State governors are now offering incentives to residents who receive a Covid-19 vaccine</p> (Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

State governors are now offering incentives to residents who receive a Covid-19 vaccine

(Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

The United States' mass vaccination campaign has plateaued, with state and local officials struggling to convince some residents who have yet to receive a Covid-19 vaccine to get one.

Funding ad campaigns that inform people about the vaccines was one way officials were tackling vaccine hesitancy. But a recent poll found that giving cash incentives could also sway some Americans towards getting the vaccine.

A survey, which involved 38,000 respondents, released by UCLA, found that 34 per cent of those who have yet to receive a vaccine would get one if they were incentivised with cash payments of $100. And 31 per cent of the unvaccinated said they would be more likely to get the vaccine if they received just $50.

This information might be why several state governors have introduced incentives for residents as vaccine administration has stalled.

Maryland Governor Larry Hogan revealed that any state employee who received a vaccine would receive $100.

“With this incentive programme, we are further encouraging state employees to get vaccinated to help keep themselves, their families, and their communities healthy and safe,” Mr Hogan, a Republican, said on Monday.

In West Virginia, Governor Jim Justice, a Republican, said that residents ages 16 to 36 could receive a $100 savings bond if they got a vaccine in an effort to stop the virus “dead in its tracks”.

New Jersey decided to offer its residents a free beer at participating breweries if they receive the first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine in the month of May. This public awareness campaign was named the “Operation: Jersey Summer” in an effort to return the state to normal for Memorial Day.

Connecticut also has a similar campaign where residents can bring their vaccination cards to participating locations from 19 May to 31 May to receive a free drink.

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Other states have partnered with specific organisations in an effort to incentivise more segments of the population to receive a vaccine. For example, New York teamed up with the New York Yankees and New York Mets to offer vaccine shots right at the baseball stadiums. Participants who receive a vaccine at the stadium will then get a free ticket to a game.

“If we can encourage more people to get vaccinated by giving away Yankees tickets, we are in,” the New York Yankees said in a statement on Wednesday. “So come to the ballpark, get vaccinated, and root for the Yankees!”

Nationwide, Krispy Kreme was offering customers a free glazed donut if they show their vaccination cards.

Also, adults who get vaccinated in a CVS located in Target stores will now receive a $5 coupon starting this week, the store chain announced.

Then several national businesses are offering time off and extra money to their employees for getting vaccinated, including AT&T, Instacart, Trader Joe's, Aldi, Lidl, Chobani, Olive Garden, Petco, Darden Restaurants, McDonald's and Dollar General.

Although these incentives would likely convince some more residents to receive a vaccine, some health experts have condemned the move given how it makes the United States look compared to other countries.

“When people are clamouring for vaccines in India and in Brazil, it just makes us look like a nation of sulky adolescents ... So if it's absolutely necessary, sure, although it's tough to swallow,” said Dr Peter Hotez, who is the dean for the National School of Tropical Medicine at the Baylor College of Medicine, when speaking to CNBC.

Currently the US was averaging about 2.3 million vaccinations per day, which was down 32 per cent from its peak in April at over 3 million vaccinations per day.

As of Tuesday, more than 145 million US adults, or 56.4 per cent, have received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine and 105 million adults, or 40.8 per cent, were fully vaccinated from the novel virus, according to data released by the CDC.

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