Minnesota breweries partner with public health goals in vaccine incentive program

Elizabeth Spadaccini

MINNEAPOLIS, MN – Minnesota is one of the most recent states to roll out a vaccine incentive program, offering free or discounted beer at 21 different breweries for any person of drinking age with at least one documented dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

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Spiral Brewery, one of the participating establishments.Elizabeth Spadaccini

The program, dubbed “Cheers to the Vaccine,” comes during the roll out of similar programs all around the country – vaccine lotteries in Ohio and California being some of the most publicized contests (named “Vax-A-Million” and “Vax For the Win”, respectively). Minnesota’s program was announced by Governor Tim Walz on May 28, runs through the end of June, and includes breweries located all over the metro.

There is a one drink per customer coupon – but the hope is the customer will buy another round. In a press release from Gov. Walz and Lt. Governor Peggy Flanagan announcing the program, Lauren McGinty, executive director of the Minnesota Craft Brewers Guild, said, “this program is a great way to promote safety and support local small businesses that have been hit especially hard during the pandemic".

With incentives similar to that of Minnesota popping up around the country, acting as another push to increase the percentages of vaccinated Americans, the question is whether these incentives will work, and accomplish the intended increase in vaccination rates, something brought to light by Wharton professor Iwan Barankay. In an interview with Wharton Business Daily, Barankay said that in general, vaccine incentives don’t target the actual things people require to get their vaccine.

“To raise vaccination rates, we have to engage with the socioeconomic barriers that people are facing,” said Barankay.

Common barriers include access to vaccination sites, low income, housing issues and inability to find childcare. Barankay also spoke on the almost immovable reality of getting the vaccine – some people will never be persuaded to take it, no matter what type of incentive is dangled in front of them.

In Minnesota, the targets of the vaccine incentive program look to be beer enthusiasts who have yet to receive their shot(s), and a reward for anyone over 21 who has received theirs. “Cheers to the Vaccine” has also taken on the task of supporting small businesses and reopening procedures, after a particularly hard year. The program's effectiveness, in all respects, will be determined at the end of June.

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I bounce between Madison, WI and Minneapolis, MN, and I'm partial to reporting on education, the arts and entertainment, but I'm open to pursuing any worthwhile story. I graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in May of 2021, with a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism and Spanish, and currently work at UW's Communications department as their video intern!

Madison, WI
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