You would think getting a vaccination as protection against a deadly disease would sell itself. Yet interest appears to be lagging, so governments and businesses are getting into the act and offering incentives to lure the unvaccinated to roll up their sleeves.
While free vaccines are being offered to qualifying adults, for the moment population or “herd” immunity remains elusive. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is still learning how many people need to be vaccinated to reach population immunity. In an attempt to get more people vaccinated, some businesses and entertainment events across the country are offering free incentives in exchange for at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.
“In Pennsylvania, the incentive to get vaccinated, aside from saving the lives of family and friends, is that once we reach 70 percent of adults fully vaccinated, the masking wearing mandate will be lifted,” said Maggi Burton, spokeswoman for the Pennsylvania Department of Health. Currently, Pennsylvania is 39 percent vaccinated.
According to Becker’s Hospital Review, Pennsylvania ranks 20th in getting shots distributed into arms, with more than 14 million doses received and 11.7 million administered.
So, as the country moves toward the goal of herd immunity, what kind of incentives are being offered to persuade more people to get vaccinated?
Some states like New Jersey, Ohio, and Maryland are offering individuals free items in exchange for proof that they’ve received a COVID-19 test or the first dose of one of the available vaccines. For example in Alabama, the Talladega Speedway is offering two free laps around the track for anyone 19 or older who receives a COVID-19 test and/or vaccine. In California, over 75,000 residents were interviewed with one-third saying a cash incentive would be the best way to convince them to get the vaccine, although that state does not currently offer such an incentive.
In New Jersey, Gov. Phil Murphy announced a select number of breweries and bars will be participating in a “Shot and a Beer” program. The plan allows adults who receive a dose of COVID-19 to receive a free beer. All they have to do is go to a participating location and show their vaccination card.
So, what incentives are being offered in the counties in and around Delaware Valley?
In Montgomery County, officials are making it easier than ever to get vaccinated. Kelly Cofrancisco, communications director for the Montgomery County Board of Commissioners, said the county has “established three mall sites so that people are able to get the vaccine while they are out running errands, and [they] accept walk-ups to all of [their] sites so no appointment is needed.” However, they do encourage appointments if a person is able to do so.
The Philadelphia 76ers offered 500 free tickets to those who received their first dose of the vaccine on May 15. They partnered with the City of Philadelphia and Black Doctors Consortium to provide two participating clinics to administer the vaccines. Individuals then received a code allowing them to download their tickets to the basketball game on May 16.
It’s expected free incentives will increase the vaccination attempts in the country, but also in Delaware Valley. Despite them, there are people who aren’t sure they want to get the vaccine. Some are worried about the speed at which the vaccine was developed and distributed. Others believe the government is using the vaccine to control their day-to-day lives by restricting their ability to do certain activities, while their vaccinated peers are now less restricted.
“Overall, it is our position that anything that convinces people to get vaccinated is helpful, whether that is an incentive, speaking with their healthcare provider, or with friends and family,” Confrancisco said. She added, “the biggest incentive to get the vaccine is so that people can protect their family and their community, and so that we can get back to normal.” That means getting as many people vaccinated in the county as possible.