International 14/05/2021

Beer, marijuana, a million-dollar raffle... A thousand ways to encourage vaccination in the United States

The mayor of New York eats a hamburger in front of the cameras to announce a fast food offer for those who get vaccinated

Mar Bermúdez i Jiménez
3 min
A menu from the fast food chain Shake Shack.

BarcelonaIf Americans were wary of getting vaccinated against covid-19, they will certainly find an incentive to do so. The governors of different states across the country have announced juicy and varied rewards for all those who agree to receive a dose of the vaccine. One of the latest and most popular initiatives was the announcement by New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, who while munching on a burger from the famous fast food chain Shake Shack announced that those who get vaccinated would receive free fries at the brand's establishments and a card for a menu, also for free.

"We need everyone to get vaccinated, and we know we have to make it practical. So we know we have to make it easy, and we also know that incentives help", the mayor said between bites. It is not the first incentive he has offered following this premise: gift cards from different brands and establishments, doses available to foreigners in major tourist attractions in the city such as Times Square, and even an agreement with the Yankees and Mets to offer vaccinations on game days and, in addition, give away the ticket.

However, New York is not the only state that wants to encourage citizens to get vaccinated with offers like these. Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, for example, announced a weekly raffle starting Wednesday, 26 May, among all adults who have received their first dose. The prize for the winner will be $1 million. A four-year scholarship to any college or university in the state will also be raffled off to those under 17 who are vaccinated. Detroit has also decided to go for financial incentives: $50 gift cards for those who take a resident to get vaccinated. The proposal is called "good neighbour".

Muriel Bowser, the mayor of Washington DC, has organised on Friday a beer garden for those who have been vaccinated at the Kennedy Center: "Get vaccinated and get a free beer between 4 and 8 p.m.", says the announcement. In the same way, in New Jersey, the Shot and a Beer programme has been created, in free drinks in breweries are guaranteed with the vaccination card. Some bars in New Orleans also offer a shot glass of liquor per dose.

Another incentive that has generated a lot of buzz is that of Memphis, which will raffle a choice of Chevrolet and Nissan cars for residents who participate by providing their full vaccination details.

In a completely different vein, Joints for Jabs emerged. Activists in New York offered a total of 6,000 pot cigarettes to long lines of vaccinated people in both Washington DC and New York, where recreational marijuana has recently been approved.

The epidemiological situation

The vaccination campaign in the United States is one of the most advanced in the world. This is the first country that has already begun mass vaccination of teenagers. About 120 million people have already received the full regimen and are immunised against covid-19.

According to a survey conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF), in January nearly half of all Americans wanted to get the covid-19 vaccine as soon as possible. Forty-seven percent of the population was willing to get vaccinated, while 31 percent preferred to "wait until after some time has passed to see how it works on others". Around 20% were reluctant to be vaccinated and, of these, 13% flatly refused to receive any doses at all. The denialist attitude of former President Donald Trump and the management of the pandemic were some of the reasons that justified these data.

Even so, the numerous incentives have not only been an extra motivation for those who were already convinced, but also a way for the most reluctant to find a benefit and decide to get inoculated.