Cash For Vax: What Incentives are Being Offered to Increase COVID-19 Vaccine Uptake?

AM analysts have been monitoring the growing trend some states, local authorities, or private companies are using to persuade people to have a COVID-19 vaccination including offering cash for vaccines, among other incentives. The Buffalo New York area might provide the rest of the country with a model to get needles into arms with their program “shot and chaser.”

A local microbrewery offered folks a free beer if they received a shot at a pop-up site next to their fermentation tanks. According to the Executive of Erie County, NY, Mark Poloncarz, the results were extremely promising, “We got 10 times more people to get vaccinated with their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine in just a few hours at a brewery than we would have if we had been sitting in one of our full-time clinics for 12 hours.”

The New York Times reported that approximately a third of the unvaccinated population have stated that a cash incentive would probably be enough to get them to take the vaccine

Pennsylvania and New Jersey are weighing the decision to offer cash incentives and Maryland and West Virginia are paying certain brackets of the population up to $100 to get the shot

While this approach offers a newfound sense of hope as vaccination rates dwindle, it only solves a portion of the problem. As the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported, 17% of respondents in a study said they would not take the vaccine because the “vaccine is too new, there’s not enough information about it or its long-term effects are unknown.”

Offering incentives and rewards to increase vaccination rates is a great example of using a behavioral science approach to meet communication and policy objectives. The question remains: how do we convince those who are not persuaded by incentives, whether cash or beer, to get the vaccine? 

Despite vaccine hesitancy levels stabilizing and trending downwards, achieving herd immunity is becoming less likely. The mass marketing campaigns that have dominated the airwaves and social media this year have succeeded in getting the bulk of the population vaccinated. However, the challenge now faced by public health authorities is working out how to persuade those who don’t want to be persuaded. Perhaps now is the time for a more creative and innovative approach that focuses less on mass marketing campaigns and more on localized and personalized messaging and outreach—and incentives may play a key role in that plan. AM’s solutions are based on behavioral science and rely on building a comprehensive understanding of each audience to identify the drivers of vaccine hesitancy and barriers to vaccine acceptance—which are complex and vary greatly from person to person. 

Want the latest insights on COVID-19? To find out how AM TRACE can help you with vaccine messaging strategies, vaccine management and distribution, testing coordination, and contract tracing, contact Dr. Christopher K Orlea, Chief Experience Officer at   

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