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Thousand-Dollar Cash Payments And A TikTok ‘Influencer Army’ Are Part Of The Campaign To Get People Vaccinated

You can scold, cajole and pressure people to make them do things they don’t want to do. This approach mostly backfires, as folks don’t like being ordered around. Sometimes, spending a little money or seeing a young person dancing helps change opinions. 

Relentless attacks by the mass media on the unvaccinated people in the United States haven’t fared too well. Roughly 70% of adults have received at least one shot, but under 50% of the U.S. population is fully vaccinated. Over 99% of Covid-19 deaths have been among the unvaccinated last month. 

Perhaps, the mixed messages sent out by our government and health officials have made some people hold off on getting their shots. Americans are still individualistic mavericks and not easily lassoed into what everyone else is doing. There are those who instinctively tend to pushback when they feel bullied into doing something.

It seems that politicians and business leaders have started to realize that chastising and villainizing Americans isn’t a very effective playbook for a large portion of the population. They’re now finally figuring out that maybe, money talks.

President Joe Biden has called for states and local governments to offer $100 payments to newly vaccinated Americans, in an attempt to increase the rates of  inoculations. The U.S. Treasury Department said that it has the money allocated from the $350 billion relief funds, which could be used to offer the $100 incentives.

In an awkwardly worded statement, the Treasury Department said about the cash rewards, “Programs that provide incentives reasonably expected to increase the number of people who choose to get vaccinated, or that motivate people to get vaccinated sooner than they otherwise would have, are an allowable use of funds so long as such costs are reasonably proportional to the expected public health benefit.”  

The state of New Mexico tried the cash incentive plan. Folks who were fully vaccinated between June 14 and 17 June received $100 bucks. It was a big success. Johnson & Johnson notices a quadrupling in shots during this time period. Over 20,000 people were involved with the process.   

The private sector has stepped in too. Walmart is offering a $150 bonus, plus two hours of pay to get vaccinated, along with the promise of up to three days paid time off, if they demonstrate any adverse reactions to the injections.  

Despite the success in New Mexico, there is concern that the cash payments may have an unintended consequence. There could be people who game the system. They’ll believe that the monetary incentives to get shots will keep going higher. If they wait long enough, the payday may increase to several hundred dollars or more. This mindset could result in delays of people getting their shots—or foregoing it altogether, if the cash payments end.

One of the largest money management firms in the nation, Vanguard, will give $1,000 to any employee who can prove they’ve gotten one of the Covid-19 vaccines by October. A corporate spokesperson said, “We are offering a vaccine incentive for crew [Vanguard’s term for employees] who provide Covid-19 vaccination proof.” This serves as a reward to employees “who have taken the time to protect themselves, each other and our communities by being vaccinated.”

If the money doesn’t work, the government is also relying upon young, attractive TikTok influencers. The Biden administration is actively recruiting an “influencer army” to promote vaccines to Gen-Zers.

According to the New York Times, high school student Ellie Zeiler, a 17-year-old TikToker with over 10 million followers, was approached by the White House with an interesting offer. Zeiler was requested to partake in a campaign to entice her followers and other young people to get vaccinated. 

About 50 Twitch streamers, YouTubers and TikTokers with large followings, including the very popular 18-year-old star, Olivia Rodrigo, have joined up. Some states and local municipalities have started similar campaigns. They are paying “local micro influencers” up to $1,000 a month to spread the word.

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