Massachusetts

Gift Cards, Beer, Sports Tickets: Will All of These Vaccine Incentives Work?

People who get vaccinated against COVID-19 at a mobile clinic at Market Basket will get a gift card to be used at the grocery store, one of the latest incentive programs being offered to help sway unvaccinated people to get the shot

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Cash and prizes are becoming more popular as a way to sway the unvaccinated to get the shot.

"Our office has begun to do initial research on what a vaccine lottery would entail, but ultimately any program and specifics would be set forth by the Governor's office," the Massachusetts treasurer's office said in a statement.

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Gov. Charlie Baker's office did not answer directly when asked about a possible lottery, but said the state remains committed to getting every person a shot who wants one.

This includes setting up mobile vaccine clinics beginning Thursday at five Market Basket locations, where a vaccine will come with a $25 gift card in an effort to boost vaccine numbers.

While Massachusetts has made significant progress in the coronavirus vaccine rollout, there is an urgent push to encourage people who are hesitant.

"We peaked probably in mid-April, maybe second or third week of April, and so we've seen the numbers decline sharply, especially in the last two weeks," said Dr. Amir Mohareb, an infectious diseases physician at Massachusetts General Hospital and at Harvard Medical School. "The fact that Market Basket gift cards and cash incentives and lottery tickets are popular, that probably tells us more about how desperate some people and some families are for cash and food support rather than telling us about vaccine hesitancy."

Nationally, President Joe Biden announced a slew of incentives Wednesday to get more people vaccinated by July 4, including child care for people who need to take time off to get a shot, bringing vaccine doses to more than 1,000 Black-owned salons and barber shops, and a round of beer from Anheuser-Busch if the country meets the president's vaccine goal.

"Get a shot and have a beer," said the president. "Free beer for everyone 21 years and over to celebrate the independence from the virus."

The president's goal is to get 70% of all adults at least partially vaccinated by Independence Day. Right now, the number stands at 63%.

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