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The Economics of Vaccine Bribery

New York City is paying kids to take the jab. Other places are trying the same thing – but will the bait work?

by | Nov 10, 2021 | Articles, Opinion, Politics

Christmas is coming. With the global supply chain crisis potentially canceling the holiday season, kids may need to depend on current inventories at the nearest Best Buy, GameStop, or Barnes & Noble to treat themselves to something more than a lump of coal in their stocking. Where will they get some money? Their parents are strapped for cash as the economy fails. If they are located in New York City, there may be only one option: Get the vaccine to get some dough. Some jurisdictions are so desperate for kids to roll up their sleeves that they are offering a financial incentive – or bribery. One region trying such a scheme is the Big Apple.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has authorized the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use in children five to 11 years of age. This will allow millions of American children to get jabbed, and it could be achieved in a timely manner since millions of shots manufactured by Pfizer were advance shipped throughout the country.

New York City Bribes the Kids

GettyImages-1351333811 getting vaccine

(Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

A couple of days after the FDA announcement, New York City established sites offering COVID shots to this age group. Mayor Bill de Blasio is paying kids $100 to get their first doses at a vaccination site, school, or pediatrician’s office. If children scoff at the notion of some cold hard cash, they can receive free tickets to local attractions, including the Statue of Liberty or the Brooklyn Cyclones baseball team.

“We really want kids to take advantage, families take advantage of that. Everyone could use a little more money around the holidays. But, most importantly, we want our kids and our families to be safe,” the mayor said. “All choices are good choices, but we want to make it available and easy for parents who prefer just to go to their local school building.”

Jab recipients will need to provide an email address to receive a link to redeem the Benjamin Franklin note or vouchers to enjoy the sights and sounds of the City That Never Sleeps.

The nation’s largest city has been extending monetary incentives to other age groups for weeks, including up to $500 for municipal employees. Other cities and states – and businesses – are mirroring these efforts to ensure more of these vaccines are injected into the arms of the population.

Getting Paid to Get Vaxxed

Across the country, officials are trying everything – from gift cards to days off from school – to nudge parents to vaccinate their children against the highly-infectious respiratory illness. Chicago, IL is extending $100 gift cards. San Antonio, TX is allowing parents and guardians to claim a $100 gift card for H-E-B grocery stores. Phoenix, AZ is handing out $100 Target gift cards to students. A school district in South Carolina is paying $100 to high school students to get the vaccine. Louisiana is also dangling the $100 prize. Minnesota is doing one better: $200 Visa cards and a $100,000 college scholarship raffle.

But are these officials wasting taxpayer money?

New Banner Covid AffairsAccording to a new study published by the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), the financial nudge has failed to boost coronavirus vaccinations among Americans hesitant about getting the jab. Instead, the paper noted that financial incentives and negative messaging lowered vaccination rates among several population groups. Meanwhile, a report published in JAMA Health Forum discovered that incentive lotteries prevalent in 19 states did not lead to any success, adding that they are less appealing than actual cash.

In October, a Kaiser Family Foundation survey learned that only one-quarter (27%) of parents with children ages five to 11 would vaccinate their child immediately. Thirty-five percent would definitely not vaccinate or would not unless mandated. The remaining figure would “wait and see.”

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the Children’s Hospital Association (CHA), approximately 6.4 million children have tested positive for the coronavirus. However, based on data from 24 states, only between 0.1% and 2% have been hospitalized. In addition, the child mortality rate of the 45 states reporting has been between 0% and 0.03%.

Should Children be Vaccinated?

Children’s vaccines contain the same ingredients as the adult version, except in a smaller dosage: 30 mg compared to 10 mg. But are they necessary? U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy has done the media rounds, urging parents to vaccinate their children, arguing that these pharmaceutical companies have gone through tests and rigorous review processes for children’s COVID vaccines. However, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunization in the United Kingdom asserted that “the margin of benefit is considered too small to support universal vaccination of healthy 12- to 15-year-olds at this time.” So, in the end, it comes down to parents’ choices and consultations with their physicians.

~ Read more from Andrew Moran.

Read More From Andrew Moran

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