In a desperate attempt to get reluctant Americans vaccinated against COVID-19, many locales are creating cash and merchandise prizes to incentivize the holdouts.
This runs the gamut from free food and beer to vacations, cars, and even guns. In California, the newly vaccinated will receive $50 incentive cards and all those in the state who are vaccinated will be entered into a drawing for a $50,000 weekly prize or the grand prize of $1.5 million.
Is this a good use of funds? It looks like the incentives are motivating some people to get vaccinated. Whether it will be enough people to get us over the top on herd immunity is still to be determined.
The decision making process is fascinating. In California, the chance of an individual winning a prize is 2.2 million (much better than winning the lottery!).That’s the upside.
The downside: Without vaccination, the chance of getting severe, even life-threatening, symptoms from a COVID infection is 1 in 6. The chance of getting COVID at all depends on the amount of virus circulating at any given time, and that in turn is dependent on the precautions being taken (like wearing masks) and the preventative measures taken (getting vaccinated).
Yet the slight promise of a big payout is enough to move more people than the fear of severe illness or death. Such is human nature.
It would be great to know that the chance of being more prepared against an event in the future will be increased because of what we’re learning now. But I wouldn’t bet on it.
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