Less than 59% of the U.S. population 18 years and older have been fully vaccinated. In Mississippi, the state with the lowest rate, the number is less than 43%. Epidemiologists and public health officials have voiced growing concern that the highly aggressive Delta variant will turn some parts of America into COVID-19 hotspots.
Before the Delta variant became widespread in the U.S., there was a growing sense that the COVID-19 was under control and that cases and deaths would continue to fall as they had most weeks for months. However, the U.S. numbers remain staggeringly bad. Some 611,547 people have died in the United States, which is 15% of the global total. Total confirmed cases in America so far number 33,899,904, about 18% of the world number.
The federal government’s efforts to get 75% of people 18 years and older vaccinated have faltered. To move the effort forward, it has pressed more public education and encouraged the private sector to give people time off to receive vaccines. Efforts to vaccinated people of color and many residents of the South, each of which has low levels, have also been stepped on.
One of the odd, but perhaps effective ways to increase the vaccination rate is to give people free items or services as incentives. The types of things offered are unusually broad. 24/7 Wall St. has put together a sampling of some used since the start of the year.
The CDC keeps a list of companies that offer free time off or free transportation for people who want to get vaccinated. These include KinderCare, Learning Care Group, YMCA, Lyft and Uber. Read the fine print. Some are not as free as they seem.
GoodRx published a list of states which offer free lottery tickets to people who get vaccinated. These include California, Colorado, Kentucky, Maryland, New Mexico, North Caroline, Ohio, Oregon, Washington and West Virginia. What the states do not emphasize is that the odds of winning a large prize are probably a million to one.
People.com also provided a list. Free Girl Scout Cookies, Shake Shack Free Crinkle Cut Fries, Krispy Kreme free donuts, Anheuser-Busch brands free beer, free hunting and fishing licenses in Maine and free tickets to Six Flags Great America in Illinois. The NFL is even offering 50 free tickets to Super Bowl LVI.
With a sharply slowing rate of vaccination, one has to wonder how well these incentives have worked, and whether new ones will entice people to get shots.