This week, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine announced a bold new plan to encourage his constituents to get their COVID-19 vaccination shots: Once a week, for five weeks, state officials would draw the name of a vaccinated individual. That person would then receive a cool million bucks, simply for having the good sense to put potentially life-saving medicine into their arm. In doing so, DeWine became the latest elected official to dangle a cash-carrot (or in New York City. a burger and fries) on a stick in front of potential vaccine holdouts as a ploy to boost inoculation numbers.
To which I say both: "What a bummer that we need to bribe people to save lives," and also, "Hey, if it works, great!"
As it so happens, there's reason to believe it does work.
According to a just-released poll from Morning Consult, a sizable portion of people who haven't yet gotten their COVID-19 vaccinations say a simple financial incentive would be enough to convince them to get the jab. In fact, nearly a third of respondents said they'd get vaccinated for a simple $1,000 savings bond — a relatively humble financial investment compared to the trillions of dollars that have been put forward to address the coronavirus pandemic.
Incredibly, for more than two-fifths of respondents, a reward of just $50 would be enough to convince them to get poked.
Notably, the same percentage of respondents who indicated that a $1,000 savings bond would be enough incentive for vaccination (57%) also stated that workplace and shopping requirements would convince them to get a COVID-19 shot.
Among the 2,200 respondents who participated in the poll, the most common excuses for not getting vaccinated yet centered around concerns over the vaccine's longterm — and to a lesser degree, short term — effects. Alarmingly, 39% of respondents indicated "there is too much conflicting information about the shot right now" as a reason for not getting inoculated.
Speaking with a number of governors earlier this week, President Biden threw his weight behind state initiatives aimed at boosting vaccination rates, saying "the idea of engaging in and offering benefits, like everything from fishing licenses on — my guess is — and free tickets and vouchers — my guess is that's probably going to work."
By all indications, he's likely right.