States Get Creative — And Pony Up Cash — To Persuade Residents To Get COVID-19 Vaccine

When the COVID-19 vaccines first became available, millions of Americans rushed out to get them, especially older people and those with compromised health.

But that pace number has dropped off, prompting states to look for new ways to persuade Americans to take the vaccines. And some states are offering cold, hard cash to convince people that the vaccines are the right way to go.

Republican Ohio Governor Mike DeWine on Wednesday put up $5 million in a lottery drawing to persuade residents to get the vaccine. In the lottery, five vaccinated adults will win $1 million, with the money coming from federal coronavirus relief funds, according to Politico.

“I know that some may say, ‘DeWine, you’re crazy! This million-dollar drawing idea of yours is a waste of money,’ ” the governor wrote on Twitter. “But truly, the real waste at this point in the pandemic – when the vaccine is readily available to anyone who wants it – is a life lost to COVID-19.”

DeWine also announced another drawing for residents who are 12-17 years old who can win a four-year scholarship to a public university in the state, Politico reports.

While nearly 70% of those recently surveyed by The Economist/YouGov said they have either already received the vaccine or are planning to get it, 18% said they will not be taking the shots. When asked if they could be persuaded to get the vaccine, 79% of the nearly 20% said “no.” The poll surveyed 1,500 U.S. adult citizens online between May 1 and May 4.

Nearly 35% of the U.S. population has been fully vaccinated, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) — including nearly 70% of Americans older than 65. But according to The New York Times, some 30% of Americans are hesitant to get the vaccine.

Other states are finding incentives to spur residents to get the vaccine. Last month, West Virginia announced that residents age 16-35 will get $100 savings bonds when they get vaccinated. Republican Governor Jim Justice said the plan has been enacted to “jump-start” young people — who are less at risk of severe effects from the virus — to get the shots.

“Our kids today probably don’t really realize just how important they are in shutting this thing down,” Justice said. “I’m trying to come up with a way that’s truly going to motivate them, and us, to get over the hump.”

The governor said he wants younger individuals “to really see and understand that they’ve done something that’s really meaningful.”

“I’m telling you, West Virginia, it’s time to shut this thing down” unless state residents want COVID-19 to “linger forever,” Justice said. He added that the state decided to go with savings bonds instead of cash because cash would be “just … a dash in the pan and a couple of trips to Wendy’s with your friends.”

Meanwhile, one New York county has come up with a way to alleviate those hesitant to take the COVID-19 vaccine: alcohol.

Erie County “worked with a local microbrewery to host its Shot and a Chaser program, offering individuals who got their first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine at Resurgence Brewing Company a free pint glass and coupon for the vaccinated person’s drink of choice,” The Buffalo News reported.

The program seems to have worked. Before vaccinations began, there was a line out the door. By mid-afternoon, more than 100 people had taken up the offer.

“We’re going to do more people today at our first-dose clinics than most of our first-dose clinics in the last week combined,” County Executive Mark Poloncarz told the News. “It’s been a success. We figured it would be pretty good, but now we’re seeing the results.”

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