Fewer vaccines were taken in spite of millions offered in prizes
In May this year Ohio's Republican Governor Mike DeWine followed the lead of other states in trying to encourage vaccine uptake by offering incentives to those who got their shot. Some states offered a free beer to those who got their first dose. Some offered cash incentives or even pre-rolled marijuana joints.
Ohio was one of the states offering cash prizes via a lottery for those who'd been vaccinated - DeWine announced the lottery via Twitter:
Two and a half months later, Ohio is still lagging behind the US average for vaccinated citizens (at 50% based on data as at August 3 reported by the New York Times) - Ohio has vaccinated just 47% of citizens at this point.
The number is concerning at a time when the number of cases in Ohio over the last 14 days has increased by 156%.
An analysis of the effects of COVID vaccine lotteries carried out by the respected Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) has revealed that the effects witnessed in Ohio are sadly typical. The vaccine lotteries haven't resulted in an increased uptake as had been hoped.
It seems that the incentive of protecting their health for free is not enough to encourage people to get vaccinated if they have reservations. The promise of the chance of $1 million if they get vaccinated isn't an effective incentive either.
The number of doses administered is decreasing
The JAMA study has shown that while the intent was to encourage more people to get their shot, in fact there were other factors at play which meant the rate decreased regardless of the incentive. According to the study:
Between April 15, 2021, and June 9, 2021, the daily vaccination rate among adults declined from 485/100 000 to 101/100 000 persons in Ohio and from 700/100 000 to 97/100 000 persons in the states without lottery incentives - Journal of the American Medical Association
If the incentives weren't on offer, perhaps the declining uptake would have been even worse?
The factors affecting vaccine uptake
It's now apparent that the fear and misinformation that's being spread regarding the vaccine, particularly by politicians in Republican-controlled states and by right-leaning media outlets is powerful in shaping peoples' perceptions.
Recently, Illinois Senator Dick Durbin took to the house floor to call out the harm being done by such people in causing doubt amongst citizens over whether they should get vaccinated - in spite of the fact that most of them have had their vaccination, including many leading Fox News hosts and high profile politicians.
Political leaders from both parties need to continue to explore ways of encouraging their citizens to get vaccinated and wear masks in confined spaces - most effective of all may just be to send clear and consistent messages, not to fight partisan games.
If a potential prize of $1 million for getting vaccinated doesn't incentivize people then maybe it's not prizes that people want - they actually want consistent and accurate information instead.
Is it right that people should need to be incentivised to get their COVID vaccine? Shouldn't the chance of protecting their health be enough of an incentive? Let me know what you think in the comments section below.
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