COVID-19 vaccine incentives: Do they work?


CHICAGO (NewsNationNow) — During the pandemic, many states across the country shelled out incentives from scholarships to food, even cold hard cash. The goal? To encourage Americans to roll up their sleeves and get the jab. 

But did the incentives work?

Apparently not — at least not enough to have a statistically significant impact. A new study by the Journal of the American Medical Association looked at 19 states that rolled out cash lotteries as incentives.

JAMA reported that they found no uptick in vaccinations rates in these states, compared to the states that didn’t have cash prize lotteries.

A variety of prizes besides cash were offered in several states. In Ohio, there was a weekly lottery called “Vax-A-Million.” The lottery awarded several cash prizes and college scholarships to its winners.

In California, Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) held a lottery to promote Californians to get the shot. The state selected 30 winners on “$50,000 Fridays.” Two million Californians who began and completed their COVID-19 vaccinations earlier this year were eligible for a $50 gift card.

West Virginia offered guns and trucks as incentives. Arkansas and Illinois offered gift cards. Missourians won tickets to major league baseball games.

Researchers say there are several reasons why vaccination rates didn’t go up. One possibility could be that lottery-style drawings may be less effective than incentives that pay with certainty. Another possibility could be that people who were hesitant to receive the COVID-19 vaccination were influenced by vaccine misinformation and refused to be vaccinated no matter what incentive is offered.

The study failed to find first-hand data or to directly ask individuals what inspired them to be vaccinated. The data that JAMA used to conduct this study was from Johns Hopkins University Vaccine Tracker, public news reports, and The New York Times, among other sources.

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