Those who have received a COVID-19 vaccination in Chatham-Kent likely won’t be walking away with one million dollars anytime soon.
Dr. David Colby, Chatham-Kent’s Medical officer of Health, doesn’t believe in giving incentives to convince people to get vaccinated.
While the U.S. has given out lottery tickets, scholarships, marijuana, and more to encourage people to get vaccinated, Colby doesn’t believe they’re all that effective.
Several states have chosen to provide incentives to convince more residents to get their shots.
Michigan is holding a lottery-style raffle to hand out $5 million in cash and college scholarships to people who get a COVID-19 vaccine. Vaccinated Ohioans also had a shot at winning one of five $1-million prizes. Other incentives to get vaccinated in the United States included New Yorkers who were vaccinated at a ballpark could receive tickets to Yankees and Mets games while New Jersey residents could get free beer for being vaccinated.
Colby said Canada did just fine without them and has comparable vaccination numbers to the U.S.
“In Canada, our numbers are, by and large, comparable to the areas in the United States with the highest vaccination rates,” said Colby. “We’re doing very, very well in terms of our vaccination rates in Canada. I think that incentives have not been a major part of that, and yet we’re still able to demonstrate that.”
He added he is not sure what greater incentive there could be that’s better than protecting family and loved ones.
“Giving people lottery tickets, I can’t imagine that would be the defining factor for the majority of people deciding whether to get vaccinated or not,” said Colby. “It rubs me the wrong way, to be very honest.”
The region’s top doctor did, however, add that he is a practical guy. While a specific incentive program hasn’t been discussed locally yet, he is prepared to explore the idea if it helps get more people vaccinated.
“There’s a tremendous benefit for everyone. Why should we need to provide even more incentives?” Colby said. “But I’m a practical guy, and if that really turns out to be the way to get even more people coming in, well, we’ll give them some lottery tickets, I guess.”
Colby also said while he does not make the laws, he would like to see more workplaces require employees to be vaccinated.
“I personally think that people that have the potential through their workplaces to act as vehicles of infection to the vulnerable should, as a condition of their employment, have to be vaccinated,” said Colby. “That’s my own feeling, and I don’t make the laws.”
Bird Bouchard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Ridgetown Independent News