Cash, museum tickets and even marijuana are up for grabs as U.S. states and businesses try to entice hesitant people to get their coronavirus shots.
As the United States continues to administer millions of injections per day, attention has shifted from mass vaccination to targeting people who are reluctant to get vaccinated over fears that new strains of the virus could spread. develop and that the country will achieve collective immunity if the majority of the population has not been vaccinated.
To combat vaccine reluctance, businesses and local and state officials have devised eye-catching ways to get the attention of unvaccinated people.
On Monday, the state of Maryland said it would distribute $ 100 to fully vaccinated state employees – and sanction those who refuse to receive a booster if U.S. health agencies recommend one later.
“Incentives like this are another way to reinforce the importance of getting vaccinated and we strongly encourage businesses across the state to consider offering incentives to their workers as well,” said Larry Hogan, Governor. from Maryland.
In New Jersey, residents over the age of 21 who receive their first dose of vaccine in May can bring their vaccination cards to any of the 13 participating breweries and win a free beer as part of the shot and a beer program. ” of State. In the city of Detroit, anyone who drives someone for a shot can receive a $ 50 prepaid debit card.
“There shouldn’t be a single barrier for a Detroiter to get vaccinated, and certainly not transportation,” said Mayor Mike Duggan.
A sign that the vaccine deployment in the United States is now focused on community hubs rather than large vaccination centers, from the end of May, the BioNTech / Pfizer vaccine will be shipped in smaller quantities to pharmacies and smaller sites. . The new packaging will contain 25 vials, while batches of 195 vials will also continue to ship when needed, Pfizer said.
American employers are also trying to convince their workers to get vaccinated. American Airlines is giving its U.S.-based employees an extra day off and $ 50 in points, while Amazon is giving fully vaccinated frontline workers $ 80. Several retailers and restaurants with employees in contact with customers, including Lidl, Petco and McDonald’s, have also attempted to entice their employees to get vaccinated.
Some American companies are using vaccine promotion as a marketing tool to attract customers in unconventional ways. Greenhouse of Walled Lake, a Michigan marijuana dispensary, distributes “pot for injections”. Since its launch in February, the pharmacy has distributed more than 25,000 pre-laminated gaskets, according to general manager Jerry Millen.
“It’s been crazy, people are ecstatic,” he said. “If you choose to get the vaccine, you get a pre-roll. . . I did it to reward people.
The Krispy Kreme donut and coffee chain is giving away a free iced donut every day for the rest of the year to people who show proof of vaccination – an offer Carly Mack has taken up five times so far.
The 21-year-old from Dallas said the free donuts were a welcome bonus to get a shot: “I think it’s great that companies are giving out freebies. whether or not people get vaccinated because they want to be safe or just for free food. ”
Mack said she got the vaccine to protect herself and others “but I definitely had the free donuts in mind while doing it!”
The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Illinois is offering free tickets until the end of June to people with proof of vaccination, while people who get hit at NRG Park in Houston can win tickets to shows such as Disney on Ice and rapper Travis Scott’s. Astroworld Festival.
The Cleveland Indians baseball team in Ohio is offering $ 5 off select tickets, while the Cincinnati Reds are selling $ 10 tickets to vaccinated fans.
Despite the abundance of freebies, some vaccine skeptics remain resistant. “Free donuts or $ 100 do absolutely nothing to get me to get an experimental gene therapy vaccine for a disease that poses very little threat to me,” said a 32-year-old from Maryland who did not want not be named.
Nearly a third of the U.S. population is fully vaccinated, according to figures from the Centers for Disease Control, and more than 147 million people receive at least one dose. On Tuesday, US President Joe Biden announced a change in vaccination strategy aiming to vaccinate 70% of the country’s adults with at least one dose by July 4.
“People are on a pretty wide continuum of motivation to get this vaccine and that’s a small slice of people for whom this kind of incentive will work,” said Alison Buttenheim, associate professor of health policy at Penn University. of Nursing.
She said that while the freebies are unlikely to change the mind of anti-vaxxers, for people considering vaccination, “new and shiny things. . . can help with follow-up ”.