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Should North Carolina offer incentives to get the vaccine?

From cold hard cash to free drinks, more and more places are offering rewards for getting the vaccine.
Credit: WFMY

GREENSBORO, N.C. — Hot and ready, a glazed Krispy Kreme donut is the main freebie right now in North Carolina for getting the vaccine. The company founded in Winston-Salem is giving one free donut every day to anyone showing their vaccination card. A clerk at the Battleground store in Greensboro says people are coming in for the offer "all day, every day...around the clock."

While there are so many health benefits to getting the vaccine, some across the country have wondered if there should be more incentives beyond free donuts. After all, demand for the shots has dropped substantially over the past couple of months.

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services told 2 Wants To Know: "In the past, a CDC Task Force has recommended incentive rewards as one strategy to motivate people to get recommended vaccinations as there is some research that supports their effectiveness. To make it as easy as possible for people to get their COVID-19 vaccine, we are employing a range of strategies to reduce barriers, including providing transparent and accurate information, transportation, support making appointments, translators and other activities. Although the state is not currently offering incentives, we are exploring what types of incentives are most effective and if that’s another strategy to pursue."

While North Carolina is considering incentives, several other states and local governments are already offering freebies. 

West Virginia will give $100 savings bonds to people 16 to 35 who get the vaccine. Tarrant County in Texas is considering paying people $50 to get the shot. Detriot is giving $50 pre-paid debit cards if you drive someone to get their shot.

Major employers like McDonald's, Dollar General, Trader Joe's and others announced they would offer incentives for workers who receive the vaccine. Those incentives include a monetary bonus or paid time off.  

Target released a statement about their policy saying:

"We're providing up to four hours of pay to our hourly team members when they get their vaccines.  We'll also provide all U.S. team members with free Lyft rides to get to and from their appointments if they need it.  All of this on top of our work to ensure the vaccines remain free and easy for all team members, even though we don't plan to require it for them to come to work."

But not everyone thinks incentives are a great idea. Dr. David Asch of the Penn Medical Center for Health Care Innovation told the Association of American Medical Colleges that he's "pretty negative" about offering incentives for vaccines. He says they might actually backfire with someone who has concerns about getting vaccinated. 

"We might actually inflame their concerns. Someone who has a lot of distrust of the vaccine might think, 'They’d never offer money if this was a good thing.'  So, the approach could backfire," Asch told the AAMC.