Study looks at effectiveness of incentives for COVID-19 vaccine

Distributing the COVID-19 vaccine is getting tougher as demand continues to steadily go down. And as a result, more states and major companies are offering incentives to try and reverse the trend.

They’re offering money, cruises, free flights and tickets to the Super Bowl.

A study out of UCLA polled more than 70,000 people all over the country, and it looked into several motivating factors. The one that stood out the most was cash.

Carl Wood is the pharmacy manager at Vax Van USA, where they just launched a drawing for $10,000 cash. One entry for each COVID-19 shot.

“Our goal is to do 10,000 shots by July 4,” Wood said. “I saw something about Ohio. ... I think they were the first to do it. They were running a million-dollar state lottery. I was like, man, North Carolina should do something like that, and then I got to thinking, ‘Why can’t we do our own?’”

On Thursday, CVS launched its own sweepstakes with giveaways, including cash, date nights and even money for family reunions.

Starmed is offering a one-time gift card for patients who get their first dose and $25 per trip for drivers who bring someone to the vaccine appointment.

“Had she not said she was from Starmed, I would have thought it was a fraud,” mother Lavonda Brown said.

Brown learned her teenage son, who got his shot, just won an Xbox.

“I’m grateful for the gift, but I still would’ve been vaccinated with or without the gift,” Brown said.

Dr. Arash Naiem is the chief medical officer at UCLA, currently studying the impact of initiatives like incentives and endorsements on someone’s willingness to get the vaccine.

“The truth of it is all the people who are tremendously eager to get vaccinated have probably gotten vaccinated,” Naiem said.

Though, their research found one factor that often moves the meter is cash -- but not necessarily a lot of it.

A poll published by the The New York Times showed payments between $25 and $100 would work. And 34% were more likely to get the vaccine for $100, 31% for $50 and 28% for $25.

“These incentives don’t work the same way across all individuals but, ultimately, I think it’s the net effect,” Naiem said. “I think a combination of different things, including educational campaigns, is going to be really important.”

Brown said she was once hesitant too, but one person changed her mind.

“The biggest was my mom. She came out of it. She’s 71. Then I knew I would be Ok as well,” Brown said.