States hope for free joints, race tracks trigger vaccination rate spike

Marijuana activists handed out free joints to vaccinated New Yorkers on April 20, 2021 in New York City. Washington State authorized similar programs in early June.

ANGELA WEISS | AFP | Getty Images

As Covid vaccination rates stagnate or decline across the country, public and private concerns increasingly turn to incentives – from free donuts to million dollar payments, and even marijuana cigarettes or a ride on a NASCAR track – in an effort to convince Americans to get immunized.

On Monday, the Washington State Alcohol and Cannabis Board of Directors launched its ” Seals for Jabs A program that allows marijuana dispensaries to give a free joint to any resident who gets vaccinated until July 12. A similar effort has would have started in Arizona.

Other states, like New Jersey and Connecticut, are more old school, offering a free beer or soft drink to encourage more people to get vaccinated against Covid. And last month, the Alabama Department of Public Health and other agencies teamed up with the state’s Talladega Superspeedway to offer two free spins on the famous circuit to people over 16 who get pulled over. above.

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Ohio and Maryland, on the other hand, have turned to hard cash.

In May, Maryland hosted the first of its $ 40,000 lottery draws for those vaccinated. Forty consecutive days of draws for a prize of $ 40,000 end on July 4 with a final draw for a payout of $ 400,000.

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Ohio is also holding a series of raffles for cash prizes, although its ” Wax-un-million »The contest considerably increases the stake.

On the private front, Krispy Kreme in March became one of the first companies to deploy a national Covid vaccine incentive, offering a free frozen donut to any adult with a vaccination record. Earlier this month, the company said it has already distributed more than 1.5 million donuts. (The offer is still valid until the end of the year.)

“We were the first national brand to launch a campaign to show our support for Americans who choose to be vaccinated, and we were hoping others would join us,” said Dave Skena, director of marketing at Krispy Kreme.

“So it’s very gratifying to see so many businesses, organizations, communities and even state governments encouraging and inspiring people to protect themselves and others by getting immunized. “

The latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that about half of the U.S. population has had at least one injection – and yet the pace of Covid vaccinations has slowed nationwide.

The incentives may become increasingly important to move the needle from here, according to Bob Bollinger, professor of infectious diseases at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and inventor of the emocha Health app.

“It really depends on the barriers people face in getting vaccinated,” Bollinger said. The higher these barriers, the more difficult they are to overcome, he added.

The survey of 2,200 adults, including nearly 1,600 unvaccinated people, found that men are more likely than women to say these offers would require them to sign up for an injection. Democrats, more than Republicans, also said they would be more likely to get the vaccine if they could get free goods or services, and, broken down by generation, Millennials were the most likely to say certain gifts were the best. encourage people to be vaccinated.

An earlier Blackhawk Network poll found that more than two-thirds of adults said they would accept a monetary incentive ranging from as low as $ 10 to $ 1,000. A third said they would get vaccinated against $ 100 or less. Blackhawk Network interviewed more than 2,000 adults in January.

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– CNBC’s Kenneth Kiesnoski contributed to this story.

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