Vaccine incentives are beneficial

Ohio gave away a million dollars and full-ride college scholarships, California had “$50,000 Fridays” where 30 people won $50,000 each and other states are giving out free vacations. These vaccine incentives are positive, moral and definitely beneficial.

According to the Ohio Department of Health, their lottery increased vaccination rates in the state by 28% in less than a week. Other programs have also proved to be effective, including local ones in Athens.

The University of Georgia is running a lottery of 100 cash prizes of $1,000 for students, faculty and staff who are fully vaccinated. The first 50 winners were announced Sept. 15, with the rest announced on Sept. 30 and Oct. 15. This contest was an opportunity for people who got vaccinated in the past few months to receive an incentive, too.

According to an article published on Sept. 1 by UGA Today, participation in the university’s vaccination program has more than doubled in the past few weeks. This is mostly due to the announcement of vaccine incentives for UGA students, faculty and staff.

Athens-Clarke County recently implemented a program that gives people a $100 gift card per dose for getting vaccinated, starting on Sept. 3 with 2,000 gift cards available. Since then, the commission voted to add additional funding to the program, which will add 1,000 gift cards (500 for the first dose, 500 for the second.) People who either live, work or go to school in Athens are eligible, including 12-17 year olds.

For educators and staff, Clarke County School District is giving fully vaccinated employees a one time payment of $500 to those who show proof of vaccination by Dec. 1.

Experts say that if the United States wants to reach herd immunity — the point at which a population becomes immune to a disease — at least 80% of Americans need to be vaccinated. The Delta variant caused this percentage to rise. According to a survey conducted by Kaiser Health News, only a third of parents of children ages 5-11 would vaccinate their child “right away” after a vaccine is approved for the age group. As of Oct. 12, approximately 56.6% of Americans and 46.5% of Georgians are fully vaccinated. 

The vaccine itself is an incentive, as it protects us and keeps ourselves, families and others safe and healthy. The thought of someone getting severely sick or even dying from this virus should be incentive enough to get the vaccine.

Yet still, anti-vaxxers spread dangerously false information that is problematic for people’s health and safety. One of their main arguments is that, “vaccinated people are still getting COVID, so what’s the point?” According to a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, unvaccinated people are five times more likely to test positive for COVID-19 and 29 times more likely to be hospitalized for it than those who are fully vaccinated. 

Others argue incentives are bribery and “morally wrong.” A bribe is defined as something that’s illegal or dishonest, and these incentives are neither. No one is being forced. Rather it’s simply a benefit that’s being offered. Incentives aren’t “morally wrong,” especially when people’s livelihoods are at risk. People need to consider that the choices they make don’t just impact themselves.

These incentives are also beneficial to disadvantaged communities. Incentives help people who have to take time off work, find childcare or get transportation. If they’re paid to get the vaccine, they are less worried about these logistics and can focus on keeping themselves and families safe and healthy.

While I wish we lived in a world where people don’t have to be offered incentives to do something that will keep our communities safer, that sadly isn’t the case. At this point, anything that proves effective to getting Americans to get vaccinated is a good thing. This pandemic has gone on far too long. If gift cards, lotteries and scholarships help our country move forward, then it’s well worth it.

Melany Mathis

Senior Melany Mathis is the Viewpoints Editor for BluePrints Magazine. Mathis won first place for the opinion piece portion of SIPA’s 2021 Best Writing Contest. She is interested in sports medicine and physical therapy as potential careers. Some of her interests and hobbies include listening to music and watching sports. This year, Mathis hopes to step outside of her comfort zone and write informational stories that shed light on interesting subjects.

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