There’s not much Americans see eye to eye anymore – including, depressingly, the value of a Covid vaccine. And so it seems fitting that Ohio Governor Mike DeWine, desperate to raise his state’s overdue vaccination rates, has become attached to the one thing (the last thing?) That most of us have. can still agree is a good thing: the money.
DeWine announced last week that he would allocate $ 5 million in federal coronavirus aid from his state, partner with the state lottery and make a raffle of $ 1 million each for five residents. from Ohio vaccinated. That’s not all: five vaccinated children between the ages of 12 and 17 would be entered into a lottery to win a full round at one of the public schools.
So far, the “Vax-a-million” plan has had the desired effect: in one week, 113,000 Ohio residents went for the vaccine, a 53% jump from week to week. ‘other, according to ABC News. At present, this state is about 38% vaxxed.
LEARN MORE ABOUT PHILADELPHIA IMMUNIZATION EFFORTS
Now, we could easily worry about what all of this says about America and its citizens today, but it’s not as much fun as dreaming about what you could do with a million bucks. “Can you imagine?” I sighed at my husband when the news hit the headlines. “It would be a real life change.”
âYeah,â he replied, âThe same would be true of getting rid of Covid.â
Alas, Pennsylvania is not Ohio. (Who ever thought we would say that with regret?) Here in Pennsylvania, where vaccination rates are a bit better – according to Governor Wolf’s press office, 55 percent of us have received our first doses; 49 percent of us are fully vaccinated – we still rely solely on the incentives of moral responsibility and solidarity to get more of us vaccinated. It’s a matter of decency, says Wolf.
âI think the Pennsylvanians are just decent human beings and will do the right thing for the people around them,â Wolf told reporters at a press conference earlier this month. He pointed to the state’s seniors, who are currently 96% vaxxed. âThere was no incentive,â he says. âThey just wanted to keep themselves safe and they wanted to keep their family and friends safe. I think that’s what will motivate the Pennsylvanians.
It can be said, however, that the elderly – who have suffered higher death rates than other groups– indeed had a motivation beyond the common good: to avoid death. And in any case, at a time when the Inquirer reports that the blows will waste because not many people get them, a time when half of us are still in danger of catching and transmitting the virus to children and adults who cannot get vaccinated, a time when your definition of decency and mine might not match – why in the name of God wouldn’t you throw all you’ve got at that?
Many states and cities are trying. New York recently followed suit after Ohio, offering $ 20 lottery tickets in a $ 5 million “Vax-and-Scratch” lottery; Marylandalso just announced a daily 40-day $ 40,000 lottery for vaccinated citizens, with a grand prize of $ 400,000 on July 4th. (This state also gives $ 100 to state employees who get vaccinated.)
At a time when the Inquirer reports that the shots are going to be wasted because not many people are getting them, why in the name of God don’t you throw out everything you have?
In Memphis, it’s a car. In West Virginia, these are savings bonds of $ 100. In Maine, these are fishing and hunting licenses, park passes, etc. In Jersey and Connecticut, it’s a beer and a drink, respectively. (Okay, so some incentives aren’t quite as pushy. And it’s worth noting that Success for smaller incentive programs has been moderate, and in some cases apparently non-existent.)
It looks like there are plenty of leaders across the country keen to snap a photo on this idea –supported by academiaâThat financial incentives can have an impact on health behaviors, especially when it is a one-off rather than a lasting one. (Hey, that’s the same principle that inspired us here at the Citizen to give $ 1,000 to three Philadelphians who voted in the recent primary election. Just ask this guy how happy he was to win them.)
It’s true, of course, that money doesn’t solve the underlying problems here: Incentives don’t solve the fact that much of the vaccine problem is about good, clear information, as well as trust deficits ( well deserved) in some communities. But incentives don’t have to be a quick fix: they’re just one tool in the arsenal. In other words: YES to decency. YES to informative and targeted marketing campaigns of the kind that researchers promote. And YES to the money, baby.
The truth is, part of what makes the idea so appealing is also simply the chance to see if something like this can move the needle in some big, wide-spread health initiatives. It’s a “fascinating experience,” wrote Kevin Volpp, director of the Center for Health Incentives and Behavioral Economics at Penn in a recent. Washington post room. And “given the strong public resistance to public and private immunization mandates, as well as ‘vaccine passports’ and similar approaches that could be very effective, such a program could prove to be a cost-effective way to reduce the future health and economic costs of Covid-19. Given the stakes, Ohio’s approach is worth testing. “
Amen to that. In Philadelphia, you can already find small incentives like free drinks or donuts or Uber rides, thanks to local businesses. And that’s cool. But imagine what some large public-private partnerships could do if the people in power decided to try: cars! Cash! Eagles Tickets! Free Comcast service for one year!
It’s hard to believe these types of incentives wouldn’t be – forgive me – shot in the arm for our vaccination numbers, hovering around town at about 38 percent residents aged 16 and over. The same is true at the state level. Of course, we have decent people, Governor. But we also have got federal funds! We have a lottery! We have half of our citizens still unsolicited! So let’s do it. Let’s change some lives. After all, the stakes are nothing less than life as we know it. Or as we once knew, anyway.