Ohio Residents To Be Offered Lottery Tickets and Scholarships To Get Their COVID Shot
Bribing those who haven't been vaccinated
The US rollout of the Covid vaccination is going well by most measures - 265 million doses have been administered so far. But with progress now slowing and 1 in 4 Americans saying they don't intend to get vaccinated, state leaders are coming up with innovative ways to persuade those who've not yet had their dose to get immunized.
There still appears to be a way to go to achieve herd-immunity. Data comparing progress the world over suggests that the USA is currently running in third place, behind Israel and the United Kingdom - with just under 45% of the population having received at least one dose. Up to 95% of the population needs to be immune before herd immunity is effective.
Persuading those who are reluctant
There are many potential reasons why people might be reluctant to get the vaccine. Some are likely skeptical or simply in denial about the risk presented by COVID-19. Others may doubt the effectiveness of the vaccine and prefer to take their chances. Then there are those who subscribe to conspiracy theories regarding the vaccine - that the vaccine is a secretive way for governments to alter citizens' DNA or to implant us all with microchips so that Bill Gates can control our every move.
Aside from appealing to the better nature of people to be responsible for theirs and their community's health, or trying to persuade them with scientific facts, one further option is to offer bribes to them to get the shot.
Desperate times call for desperate measures
In Ohio, Republican Governor Mike DeWine has come up with an innovative way of incentivising residents in his state to get their vaccine. On 26th May there will be a draw for a $1 million prize for one adult resident of the state who has had their vaccine. This will be followed by five more weekly draws for the same, with prizes being funded from Federal cash provided to fight the virus.
In addition to the lottery for over-18s who've been vaccinated, there will be a draw for younger residents offering "a four-year full scholarship to any of Ohio's state colleges and universities, including full tuition, room, and board,"
The scheme follows similar initiatives being pursued in other states, where state leaders have concocted ways to incentivize those who might not otherwise bother.
- In New Jersey, adults who get vaccinated during May can claim a free beer from participating breweries.
- The Mayor of Detroit, Mike Duggan recently announced a scheme where'good neighbors' will receive a pre-paid debit card to the value of $50 for driving an unvaccinated person to get their shot.
- In Maryland, state employees will receive a payment of $100 once they are fully vaccinated
- In Walled Lake, Michigan a marijuana dispensary was offering a free pre-rolled joint to those who could prove they'd been vaccinated.
It's unclear whether any of these promotions will continue beyond their initial advertised periods, or whether they'll be broadened to include other citizens, but it demonstrates how states and even private businesses have been trying to encourage people to get their shot, by whatever means possible.
Should it be necessary to offer bribes?
There will of course be those who question whether it should be necessary to incentivize people to do the right thing and get vaccinated. Some consider it their public duty to protect themselves, and by extension, others by getting their shot.
People in countries like India, currently undergoing a vicious spike in cases would of course love to be eligible for a vaccine and would take it willingly without having to be bribed. The BBC reported that in April, only 0.3% of vaccine doses went to those in low-income countries - a figure that needs to be addressed if the world is likely to beat COVID-19 properly without the future emergence of deadly mutations that undermine the value of the vaccines currently being rolled out.
But nonetheless, for residents of Ohio, New Jersey and Michigan - anything that increases the take-up of the vaccine must of course be viewed as a positive step towards herd immunity and the eventual relaxation of social distancing rules.