PHOENIX — As the number of coronavirus cases continue to fall around the country and more people receive the COVID-19 vaccine, some businesses and states are offering incentives -- some of them quite lucrative -- to try and entice those who are still leery to ultimately get the vaccine.
In Maryland, California and Ohio, people had a chance to win large sums of money -- $40,000 to $1.5 million -- in state lotteries, while other states offered theme park tickets, baseball tickets, Girl Scout Cookies, or smaller cash prizes.
Arizona has partnered with the Arizona Diamondbacks to host a vaccination event at Chase Field on Saturday, June 5, where people will be able to run the bases, take photos on the field, and receive a voucher for two tickets to a future baseball game.
But, other than that, there are no immediate plans for any such state-wide incentive, such as a lottery windfall. It's also up for debate as to whether such incentives work or are needed.
“We are aware of incentives offered by other states, and this is something we continue to explore while applauding creative incentives offered by private organizations," said Steve Elliott, a spokesperson for the Arizona Department of Health Services.
"This challenge calls for a community response, and we are grateful to the many partners who have already stepped up," he said.
Earlier this year, people who brought their COVID-19 vaccination card to Krispy Kreme locations could receive one free doughnut each day. The doughnut company said it gave out 1.5 million doughnuts.
Will Humble, the former director of ADHS, said while incentives may boost vaccination numbers, they do not address the real barriers, such as access for low-income people to easily get the vaccine, and educating those who are still hesitant to get it.
“It’s about making it more convenient and easier for people in hard-to-reach communities, lower income parts of the state and parts of our cities, and then making it easier for doctors to onboard and have vaccine in their office,” said Humble.
That is what the state appears to be doing next.
Dr. Cara Christ, the current director of ADHS, announced Thursday that the state's large vaccination sites would close by June 28 as the state shift its vaccine focus to smaller, community-based initiatives, such as pharmacies, doctors' offices, and neighborhood organizations.
"At a state level, our major focus is removing barriers to vaccination by getting information into areas with low vaccination rates as well as to the general public, connecting people with vaccine providers and pop-up events, and getting more vaccine into doctors’ offices and other neighborhood providers in addition to the hundreds of pharmacies and other providers offering vaccine widely around the state," ADHS said in a statement.
Elliott, an ADHS spokesperson, said the biggest incentive for people to get the COVID-19 vaccine is to protect themselves, their families, and their community.