There’s No Shame in Bribing Americans to Get Vaccinated
This past March, a corporate executive aware of his vast customer base had an idea to speed up the efforts to vaccinate more Americans and help end the ongoing hell that is this plague: a free doughnut in exchange for proof of vaccination.
Given the realities of life in 2021, of course this campaign prompted criticism from some within the medical community, including doctor and frequent CNN talking head Leana Wen, MD. Apparently, Krispy Kreme giving away some of their frosty-ass doughnuts is a bad example of how to incentivize vaccinations. (And don’t take that as shade, Krispy Kreme lovers. I’m more of a Shipley’s Do-Nut kind of guy, but those KK doughnuts hit when eaten hot.)
I happen to enjoy Wen when she’s asking Americans to please stop courting death during a pandemic, but when it comes to this line of criticism from her and others, respectfully, I want some of us to know when to choose our battles. Part of that comes with accepting the country you live in.
Responding via an interview with Yahoo Finance Live, Krispy Kreme CEO Mike Tattersfield said, “We’re a sweet treat company… If folks don’t want to visit a doughnut shop, they don’t have to.”
He added that if “folks that want to get a vaccine, if they decide to combine a Krispy Kreme pickup for a doughnut, they can. That’s how we look at it… generosity.”
Right, let folks deal with their “sugar is bad” issues at a later date. We need to focus on the larger goal: Covid-19. We will have to address our collective sugar addiction some other time, which is probably never unless someone swings a financial hammer back at some lobbyists. Anyhow, a company giving away free calories in the name of helping end a plague — and generating some great publicity in the process — is pretty much as helpful as most major American corporations will get.
The move also speaks to the reality that most Americans, namely those still on the fence about being vaccinated, will require some level of incentivization to stop dragging this mess out and do their part by getting the shot(s). I’m surprised it’s taken so long to realize this was the right move to make. Already, you can see the damage that comes with squandered time.
Back in late April, there was reason to worry when data showed that a small but significant enough portion of Americans did not go back to get their second dose of the vaccine. Unfortunately, that means they are not real Pfizer Papis and Princesses or Moderna Mamis and Men. It also means that with all of these variants going around, because select parts of the country never quite shut down long enough to tame the coronavirus, those folks are more likely to become infected and spread the disease. And while I’m not an epidemiologist, I’ve watched and read enough to deduce that unless we tame this plague now, it’s going to put a bigger and potentially permanent dent in our normal way of life.
If good will can’t get these stragglers in line, bribe their asses already... Now is not the time to be naive about the best ways to combat vaccination hesitancy.
So can we just not? We already have climate change to contend with. Some of us are also just tired of this and would like to speed up everyone’s individual comeback tour. Those who have actually behaved and endured a lot of isolation for the sake of trying not to kill other people have done our part.
If good will can’t get these stragglers in line, bribe their asses already. Selfishness and self interests have had starring roles throughout this miserable ordeal. Now is not the time to be naive about the best ways to combat vaccination hesitancy.
Whether most people want to admit it or not, the federal government has repeatedly dropped the ball when it comes to having messaging ready for various anti-vax talking points that were so expected if (again) you recognize the country you live in.
When the QAnon-loving freshman congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene said that a potential vaccine passport is “Biden’s mark of the beast” and that any company that requires one is engaging in “corporate communism,” that was to be expected. After all, late last year, a young Black girl working at a pharmacy asked me if I was getting the vaccine. When I told her yes, she mentioned that her mother, a pastor, said the vaccine was “the mark of the beast.”
This contradictory messaging is on par with reports that health care workers themselves have expressed vaccination hesitancy. This drugstore employee thought she was helping me, like all those other people on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram saying the same shit. I didn’t have time to save her, but those in charge of this country should know that people were going to have this view.
The reporting about resistance to vaccinations from White evangelicals was also to be expected, just like the more conservative members of the Catholic church bashing the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Biden, the Catholic president, must’ve known this was a potential problem. I’m sure if I said “baby powder” to Vice President Kamala Harris, she’d know exactly what I meant and why some Black folks had such hesitance to J&J.
People thought they were doing something by bringing up Tuskegee, but they were missing the bigger picture in so many instances. Meanwhile, in December, NBC News reported that anti-vaxxer groups were targeting local news stations and being rewarded with platforms to spread disinformation. The anti-science side has been ready for this moment. Now the sensible side must step it up.
Give the people whatever they desire: a bribe.
In New Orleans, a hospital promised fish plates. Usually, I wouldn’t be tempted by hospital food, but if it’s a hospital in New Orleans bragging about their fish plates, one assumes that fish plate is probably worth it. For the record, China is trying the same approach with chicken wings, eggs, tissue, and grocery coupons.
In New York City, if you get vaccinated you can now get tickets to some of the attractions the tourism board would really like for millions of people to come back and visit.
Maryland’s Republican Governor Larry Hogan is offering $100 to state employees who get the Covid-19 vaccine, confirming my hunch that if all else fails, money works.
And if people still refuse, they can be effectively shut out.
The right has already started stoking this fear, but while I’m not certain if there will be a “vaccine passport,” vaccinations will likely be required to go to concerts, select events, and certain countries. For those troubled by that, welcome to the same shit you had to do to attend the public school where you clearly slept through 12 years of science class.
Now is the time for the vaccinated to go back to regular-enough life. We deserve it. If a catfish dinner, free liquor, cash, or other prizes won’t convince the doubters with no legitimate health-related reasons to do the right thing, let them face the consequences.