BOSTON (CBS) – The video from Governor Jim Justice of West Virginia sounded at first like a come-on for a sporting goods store fire sale. “We’re gonna give five custom hunting rifles and five custom hunting shotguns away on Father’s Day,” he barked. “And also on Father’s Day we’re gonna make one of you a millionaire!”
Come on down!READ MORE: Man Tried To Abduct 16-Year-Old Girl In Falmouth, Police Say
But this was no retail sales pitch. Gov. Justice was joining the growing club of state governments using cash and prize giveaways as an inducement to coax the large numbers of unvaccinated Americans to go get their shots.
You’ve seen President Biden repeatedly beg the hesitant to get it done; even former President Trump has endorsed the vaccine. But a recent UCLA survey found those appeals haven’t worked; instead, in a depressing echo of our country’s toxic partisanship.
Biden’s pitches have actually decreased vaccination rates among Republicans, while Trump’s approval slowed progress among Democrats.
Even the urging of doctors and pharmacists has had little impact on the hesitant. But there is one thing that does seem to move the needle.READ MORE: Lawmakers, State Leaders Fight Over Drawing Precinct Lines
Cash incentives are prompting people to roll up their sleeves in a growing number of states, with Ohio leading the way. They ran a lottery with a million-dollar prize, and, says Gov. Mike DeWine, “when other governors saw that this was working, you know they reached out to us for information.” According to Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom, California, not to be outdone, is “making available the largest prizes of any state in America.”
Private providers like CVS are also on the case, offering Super Bowl tickets, cruises and beach vacations to lucky vaccinated winners.
That UCLA survey found that CDC Director Rochelle Walensky’s recent pronouncement that “anyone who is fully vaccinated can participate in indoor or outdoor activities large or small without wearing a mask or physical distancing” also sparked a surge of vaccinations. But nothing has succeeded like the sweet smell of green.MORE NEWS: Coronavirus State Of Emergency Ends In New Hampshire
And if you’re wondering whether this is the most cost-effective use of public money, consider the cost of virus spread and the health-care and other economic costs that come with the resulting restrictions: an estimated $16.2 trillion. Bring on the lotteries.