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A 'Shot' At $1 Million? Local Governments Offering Incentives For Vaccines


Perhaps it didn't exactly start with doughnuts, but doughnuts were certainly present near the beginning.


TANYA RIVERO: Krispy Kreme is giving away sweet rewards to vaccinated people. Anybody who shows a completed vaccination card at a Krispy Kreme location can get a free glazed doughnut.


If doughnuts are how it started, here's how it's going.


MIKE DEWINE: The winner each Wednesday will receive $1 million.

KELLY: One million dollars - that is Ohio Governor Mike DeWine announcing a new state incentive to get your COVID-19 vaccine, a lottery which would reward a total of five vaccinated Ohio adults a cool million dollars.


DEWINE: I know that some of you are now shaking your head and saying, that Mike DeWine, he's crazy. This million dollar drawing idea of yours is a waste of money.

CHANG: But Mike DeWine says the true waste is losing lives to COVID-19 when shots are readily available. Plenty of other institutions are offering similar incentives, including other states.


JIM JUSTICE: And then you've got people that are 16 to 35 years of age, a population in West Virginia that's 400,000, that really think they're invincible.

CHANG: West Virginia Governor Jim Justice speaking with our co-host, Audie Cornish. He is dangling a $100 savings bond for residents within that age group to get their shots.


JUSTICE: I am not going to tell you that that's a silver bullet and that they're going to do it over a savings bond. But we have to continue to try, do we not, Audie?

KELLY: Yes, we do.

Meanwhile, a lot of the vaccine perks are pretty tasty - free beer, that's New Jersey; free pies from Ledo's Pizza in Maryland, a free pound of crawfish in New Orleans.

CHANG: Some experts do warn that these initiatives send the wrong signals, though - that a public health measure might not be worth it if you don't get the money or the baseball tickets or the free food.

KELLY: None of that is stopping New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio. He's advertising a free side of French fries from Shake Shack.


BILL DE BLASIO: Did you say free fries when you get vaccinated? I got vaccinated. You're saying I could get this - these delicious fries?

CHANG: (Laughter) It remains to be seen if these incentives actually have any effect in getting more people their shots. Until then, maybe see if your state has any offers.

(SOUNDBITE OF FOXYGEN'S "STAR POWER I: OVERTURE") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Ailsa Chang is an award-winning journalist who hosts All Things Considered along with Ari Shapiro, Audie Cornish, and Mary Louise Kelly. She landed in public radio after practicing law for a few years.
Mary Louise Kelly is a co-host of All Things Considered, NPR's award-winning afternoon newsmagazine.
Sam Yellowhorse Kesler is an Assistant Producer for Planet Money. Previously, he's held positions at NPR's Ask Me Another & All Things Considered, and was the inaugural Code Switch Fellow. Before NPR, he interned with World Cafe from WXPN. He graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, and continues to reside in Philadelphia. If you want to reach him, try looking in your phone contacts to see if he's there! You'd be surprised how many people are in there that you forgot about.