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States overcoming slowing vaccination rates by offering incentives

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Posted at 3:36 PM, Jun 18, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-18 15:47:38-04

COVID-19 vaccinations in the U.S. have slowed immensely since nearly 4 million doses were being administered each day at their peak in April.

Now, only 1.1 million doses are being given each day.

“If we don’t get the world vaccinated, we may have new variants that make this tougher,” said Dr. Stuart Ray, a professor of medicine at Johns Hopkins University. “So, when we talk about this, we probably need to be thinking 80-90% of people vaccinated in order to get everybody protected.”

Currently, we are around half of that 80-90% figure, as 44.6% of the U.S. population is fully vaccinated, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but those numbers vary widely by state.

Vermont leads the country with 62.9% of its residents fully vaccinated. Then you have places like New Mexico, Virginia, Colorado, and California which all hover around 50%.

But move south and the proportion of people fully vaccinated in any given state drops quickly as states like Tennessee, Georgia, Louisiana, and Alabama all have less than 34% of their populations fully vaccinated.

To get more people on board, some states are offering incentives as a way to get more people to get their COVID-19 vaccines to protect against emerging variants.

In New York, Colorado, and Ohio, fully vaccinated people are entered in sweepstakes where 5 entrants will win $1 million. In Illinois, you can win free tickets to Six Flags amusement parks. And in Arizona, select dispensaries are giving away free marijuana to people who present their vaccination cards.

“I just think the whole goal of what we’ve done from the beginning is to try to create an environment where people feel safe because if they feel safe then they can relax, and it’s only when you relax that you can start to have fun,” said Dan Justesen, owner of Utepils Brewing in Minneapolis.

Last month, Minnesota Governor Tim Walz (D) announced the state would be partnering with select breweries from the Minnesota Brewers Guild to offer free beers to fully vaccinated people who present a valid vaccination card as an incentive to get vaccinated.

The plan seemed to work as Justesen, along with fellow brewer Daniel Jacobs of Bald Man Brewing, gave away nearly 1,000 free beers in less than a week.

“The more people are vaccinated, the safer a community is and that’s really why we really wanted to push it and be supportive of it,” said Jacobs.