State governments in the United States are offering incentives for coronavirus shots for children, just as they did for adults earlier in the year.
Since the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention formally endorsed the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine on Nov. 2 for children ages 5 to 11, more than a million have received doses, according to a White House estimate.
With the pace of inoculations stagnating among U.S. adults, states are rushing to encourage vaccinations among newly eligible younger children, despite some questions about the effectiveness of incentive programs.
Such programs proliferated over the summer as progress on vaccinations began to decline. They often involved cash payments or lotteries, sometimes to win items like customized pickup trucks or rifles, and free tickets to baseball games, drinks and even joints.
The rewards announced for children so far are mostly cash and scholarships, but in some areas, local attractions are also being dangled.
Visa gift cards worth $100 are available to children in Louisiana and Chicago. In New York City, $100 prepaid debit cards are also available, as are tickets to the Statue of Liberty and Brooklyn Cyclones baseball games.
In San Antonio, parents who have their children vaccinated at city clinics are eligible for a $100 gift card to H-E-B, the grocery store chain that is an institution in Texas. Around New York State, parents can enter children ages 5 to 11 in a series of drawings for full-ride college scholarships to any two- or four-year public college or university in the state. There will be a total of 50 winners.
Ohio is running a program called Vax-2-School in which there will be drawings for 150 scholarships to Ohio colleges worth $10,000 each, as well as five $100,000 scholarships. Older children in Minnesota, those 12 to 17, can get a $200 Visa gift card and enter a series of drawings for one of five $100,000 Minnesota college scholarships.
West Virginia is offering children a chance to win educational savings funds, and as a grand prize in the program, one school will receive $100,000 and a holiday party featuring Gov. Jim Justice and Babydog, his English bulldog. One hundred lifetime hunting and fishing licenses are also up for grabs.
In a similar vein, children aged 5 to 17 in Maine are being asked to be creative to encourage their peers to get vaccinated. The state is soliciting 30-second videos from them on the benefits of getting a Covid shot, with an emphasis on “original music or humor,” information on the vaccines’ safety and efficacy, and the dangers of being unvaccinated. The prizes, which will be donated to the filmmakers’ schools, are $50,000 for first place, $25,000 for second place and $10,000 for third place.
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