There are enormous disparities in the COVID vaccination rate – from state to state, county to county, and community to community. Why is it that when the vaccine is so readily available in this country, so much so that President Biden has promised to send a whole lot (5 million doses) overseas, that states and cities are resorting to lotteries and wild incentives to “sell” the COVID vaccine to their constituents?
President Biden has set a target to have 70% of adults vaccinated with at least one dose by July 4th. But as we near that date, it is becoming increasingly evident that goal might not be achievable. To date, 62.8% of American adults have already received at least one dose of the vaccine but the vaccine intake rates have dropped precipitously in the past few weeks, especially in rural America. That leaves many of those communities grappling with an imperfect pandemic endgame.
Early in the vaccine deployment cycle, behavioral scientists and public health officials were skeptical if incentives would work. Dr. Alison Buttenheim, an associate professor of nursing and health policy at the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing, was afraid that “If you have to pay me, it must not be a very good or safe vaccine” was the thought going through the minds of Americans who were hesitant, especially those afraid of side effects. They were also concerned that it was financially inefficient to pay everyone to get a vaccine. The government has to do a better job “meeting people where they are – both attitudenly and physically,” she adds.