WASHINGTON: Free beer, free doughnuts, free baseball tickets and savings bonds — government officials and businesses are teaming up to encourage Americans to get vaccinated against Covid-19.
President Joe Biden wants 70 percent of adults to have received at least one shot by Independence Day on July 4, and overcoming vaccine hesitancy is key to reaching the goal.
“We know there are millions of Americans who need a little bit of encouragement to get the shot,” Biden told reporters at the White House on Tuesday.
Some 56 percent of American adults — more than 145 million people — have received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, but the pace of vaccination has been slowing lately.
Federal, state and local officials are partnering with pharmacies, restaurants, breweries, supermarkets and sports teams to come up with incentives to get people to get their jabs.
In New Jersey, Governor Phil Murphy launched a “Shot and a Beer” program to encourage vaccination.
“Any New Jerseyan who gets their first vaccine dose in the month of May and takes their vaccination card to a participating brewery will receive a free beer,” Murphy tweeted.
The offer is only open, of course, to residents of the “Garden State” who are over the age of 21, the legal drinking age in the United States.
Governor Ned Lamont of the state of Connecticut unveiled a similar “Free Drink” promotion with participating restaurants last month.
In Washington, Mayor Muriel Bowser urged residents of the nation´s capital to “come get vaccinated and grab a beer, on us” at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that shots would be offered at games featuring the city´s Major League Baseball clubs, the New York Yankees and the New York Mets.
“And if you get a vaccine you get a free ticket to a Yankees or a Mets game,” Cuomo said.
– ´Motivate them´ –
Uber and Lyft are offering free and discounted rides to vaccine centers while some supermarkets are offering 10 percent off grocery purchases with proof of vaccination.
In West Virginia, Governor Jim Justice announced that the state will offer $100 savings bonds to residents aged 16 to 35 who get vaccinated.
“Our kids today probably don´t really realize just how important they are in shutting this thing down,” Justice said. “I´m trying to come up with a way that´s truly going to motivate them — and us — to get over the hump.”
“They´re not taking vaccines as fast as we´d like them to take them,” Justice said. “If we really want to move the needle, we´ve got to get our younger people vaccinated.”
In Maryland, Governor Larry Hogan said state employees who get vaccinated will receive a $100 bonus.
They also must agree to receive any booster shots recommended by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or they will have to reimburse the $100.
“Incentives like this are another way to reinforce the importance of getting vaccinated, and we strongly encourage businesses across the state to consider offering incentives to their workers as well,” Hogan said.
Krispy Kreme is offering a free glazed doughnut to anyone who presents their Covid-19 vaccination card at one of its stores.
According to a survey conducted in March by the Kaiser Family Foundation, 25 percent of Americans aged 18 to 29 are adopting a “wait and see” attitude towards being vaccinated.
Among US adults, 61 percent said they had been vaccinated or intended to do so as soon as possible while 17 percent said they were adopting a “wait and see” approach and 13 percent said they will “definitely not” get vaccinated.