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Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Explained: What are the Covid-19 vaccine incentives being adopted around the world?

To counter waning demand, authorities in various countries have come up with methods to incentivise people to get vaccinated to protect themselves from Covid-19. Here are some incentives being offered.

Written by Mehr Gill , Edited by Explained Desk | Chandigarh |
Updated: June 1, 2021 8:24:13 am
A doctor inoculates a woman with a dose of the Sputnik V Covid -19 vaccine. (AP Photo/Matias Delacroix)

In the US and some other countries, demand for vaccines has witnessed a decline after reaching their respective peaks. To counter the waning demand, authorities in these areas of the world have come up with methods to incentivise people to get vaccinated to protect themselves from Covid-19.

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But first, how many have been vaccinated in the US and around the world?

According to the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly 295 million doses have been administered in the country so far, out of which about 167 million (50.5 per cent) have received at least one dose and 135 million (40.7 per cent) are fully vaccinated.

Since the vaccination drive started in the US, the number of doses administered daily peaked on April 1, when over 4 million doses were administered. But since reaching the peak, the pace of vaccination has slowed down. On May 29, about 29,000 doses were administered. Therefore, some states in the country are now adopting strategies that incentivise people to get vaccinated.

Globally, as per Our World in Data, a total of 1.9 billion vaccine doses have been administered as of May 30, out of which 1.03 billion are in Asia.

An article in The New England Journal of Medicine noted that “there is a certain logic to providing financial incentives, which may be used to offset the indirect costs of vaccination — including time spent planning appointments, traveling, or waiting; lost income for workers paid hourly; or expenses such as child care. These costs disproportionately deter low-income people from getting vaccinated, and payments could ensure that vaccination is indeed “free” to all.”

It added that given the flagging rates of vaccinations, there is a “societal imperative” to end the pandemic and towards this goal financial incentives may hold some appeal.

Incentives that countries around the world are offering

Serbia: With a surplus of vaccines, Serbia’s president Aleksandar Vučić announced that the government would pay cash to citizens to get vaccinated against Covid-19. The move came after demand for vaccines fell when earlier this month, the country had managed to inoculate 1.3 million people out of its population of seven million.

Israel: Israel became one of the first nations in the world to have come out of the pandemic after it was successfully able to inoculate a majority of its population. The country’s “Green Pass” proposal gave certain benefits to people who had either developed immunity through infection or were fully vaccinated. People who had either of these could access gyms, hotels and restaurants. But now, with only about 500 active cases, the country’s health ministry has decided to lift almost all of the coronavirus restrictions from June 1 onwards, under which businesses and other venues will no longer be required to operate under the Green Pass program, The Jerusalem Post reported.

US States offering incentives

New York: The state came up with a ‘Vax and Scratch’ program to incentivise vaccination after numbers started plummeting. The state’s governor Andrew Cuomo announced earlier in May that lottery tickets that are otherwise sold for $20 by retailers across the state, will be given free of cost to those above the age of 18 who get vaccinated from either of the ten sites located in New York City, Long Island, Mid-Hudson, Central New York, Finger Lakes, Mohawk Valley and Western New York regions with either the first dose of the Pfizer vaccine or the single-shot Johnson and Johnson vaccine.

These scratch-off lottery tickets have a maximum prize of $5 million and a minimum prize of $20. “We’re doing everything we can to make getting a vaccine as quick and easy as possible, but as vaccination rates slow across the state, we’re going to have to get creative to put even more shots in arms,” Cuomo was quoted as saying in a statement.

A report in the Associated Press said that there is a one in a nine chance of winning a lottery in the state of New York.

Ohio: Ohio has a program called “Vax a Million”, a public outreach campaign meant to increase the awareness of the availability and efficacy of the Covid-19 vaccines. Those between the ages of 12 and 17 in Ohio who have received at least the first dose of a vaccine can enter a contest and get a one in five chance of winning a four-year full-ride scholarship, including tuition, room-and-board and books to any Ohio state college or university. Those 18 years and older who have received at least one dose have the chance to win one of five $1 million prizes.

California: In May, the state’s governor announced the “Vax for the Win” program to get more residents vaccinated by June 15. Over 62.8 percent of people who are over 12 years have been vaccinated already. All Californians aged 12+ who are at least partially vaccinated are automatically eligible for the cash prize drawings taking place in June. Thirty winners in total will be selected for the “$50,000 Fridays” cash prize  drawings on June 4 and June 11, totaling $1.5 million,” a statement issued by the government said.

Further, beginning on May 27, the next two million people who begin and complete their COVID-19 vaccination will be eligible to receive a $50 prepaid or grocery card, worth a total of $100 million.

Other states in the US including Colorado, Illinois, Maine, Minnesota and Delaware have launched similar incentive schemes that include either cash incentives, prize money or other rewards such as free access to state parks.

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