Vaccine incentives? Don’t bet on it

·2 min read

In an effort to combat vaccine hesitancy across Canada and the United States several regions have taken to offering perks to get needles into arms.

Last month Alberta announced anyone receiving their first dose will be entered into a $1 million lottery. California had 10 lucky vaccine participants win $1.5 million each, with many other U.S. states conducting lotteries as well.

Sometimes the prizes are less life-changing, but still worth getting jabbed for. West Virginia is handing $100 savings bonds to anyone aged 16-35 yet to get their first dose. New York City is giving away free tickets to the Statue of Liberty while Alabama is offering a chance to take laps around the famed Talladega Superspeedway.

Many of these incentives are still ongoing and their full impact is yet to be determined. In Ontario there haven’t been any concrete signs any bonuses are on the horizon.

But Chatham-Kent’s Medical Officer of Health says we should already have all the motivation we need.

“I think the biggest incentive to get vaccinated is to keep yourself and your loved ones and your community safe. I’m not sure what greater incentive there could be rather than that,” says Dr. David Colby.

“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. It kind of rubs me the wrong way to be very honest.”

Colby compared the idea to the Canadian Blood Services’ policy that all donations come without any financial benefit, as opposed to some countries who offer money for blood.

“Paying people to get vaccinated or providing other incentives to me just harkens a bit to that kind of thing: there’s a tremendous benefit for everyone, why should we need to provide even more incentives?”

July 12 in Ontario, 79.2 per cent of the province’s adults had one dose of the vaccine and 56.1 per cent had both shots. For children 12-17, 60.3 per cent have their first shot and 20.1 per cent are fully vaccinated.

While the numbers have quickly exceeded Ontario’s summer goals, Colby concedes that should things slow down, “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. That’s something I’m prepared to discuss.”

Alex Kurial, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Independent

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