Do COVID vaccine incentives work? Not well enough, study finds


Several states have touted prizes, lotteries and exclusive experiences if residents get their COVID vaccines, but some researcher’s aren’t convinced the incentives work. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)


Ohio, along with several other states and government agencies, got creative with vaccine advocacy during the COVID-19 pandemic. It offered residents who got vaccinated an opportunity to win $1 million through a lottery program.

The incentive, while hefty, wasn’t enough to sway Ohioans, researchers found. In fact, based on the updated information in the study, it isn’t just Ohio that failed to lure people to get the shots.

The Boston University Medical Campus conducted a study that began by comparing vaccination rates in Ohio with national vaccination rates, and then examined how the rate of vaccinations in the state changed after the $1 million incentive was offered.

When looking at Ohio, researchers found that the vaccination rate in Ohio declined significantly after the lottery was announced.

Results were first published in July 2021, but widespread conclusions were recently updated to account for data from 15 states to gauge how effective money was as an incentive nationally to get vaccinated.

“As in our prior study of Ohio’s lottery incentive, we unfortunately did not find an increase in COVID-19 vaccinations related to lottery incentive programs in other states,” Anica Law, assistant professor of medicine at BUSM and one of the authors on the study, said.

Leaders praise vaccine incentives

Different states have pulled out all the stops for vaccination efforts, with incentives ranging from million-dollar lotteries and gift cards to opportunities to drive on a racetrack, or free concert tickets, according to the National Governors Association. Some programs even offered chances for free tuition to a public university for younger people when they get vaccinated.

Some politicians and scientists have praised the idea of vaccine incentives, including White House advisor Andy Slavitt, who approved of Ohio Mayor DeWine’s efforts to vaccinate residents.

“People do care about getting vaccinated, but it turns out they also have other things they care about,” Slavitt said in a summer briefing, according to ABC News. “We encourage states to use their creativity to draw attention to vaccines and to get their states and the country back to normal as quickly as possible.”

The incentives, however, go both ways.

‘Incentivize people to skip shots’

In response to vaccine mandates from federal and state governments, several states have established extended unemployment benefits for those who chose not to get a COVID-19 vaccine, and lost their job in result, according to the Washington Post, a move that critics claim “incentivize people to skip shots that public health experts say offer the best protection against a virus that has killed more than 800,000 Americans,” the Post reported.

Despite the attention drawn to vaccination prizes and lotteries, it hasn’t been enough, according to the study, and researchers from Boston University recommended that resources should be applied toward finding other approaches to encourage unvaccinated individuals to get the COVID-19 shot.

The surge of the Omicron variant, combined with the availability of booster shots, indicate that the effort to vaccinate citizens in America is still in full swing.

“Hopefully this will be not just be a call for people to go get their booster shot, but for the tens of millions of Americans who have not had a chance to consider the implications of not getting vaccinated fully.” Peter Marks, director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, said in a statement regarding the Pfizer booster vaccine being approved for children ages 12 to 15, CNN reported. “It’s another chance. It’s not too late to start to get vaccinated.”

Over 206 million people in America have been fully vaccinated and 71.6 million have received a booster dose, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Need help finding a place to get vaccinated?

The CDC offers a guide for people in the United States to locate their closest vaccination site.

Follow more of our reporting on Full coverage of coronavirus in Washington

See all stories

Alison Cutler is a National Real Time Reporter for the Southeast at McClatchy. She graduated from the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University and previously worked for The News Leader in Staunton, VA, a branch of USAToday.

Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.