Many states are offering incentives to get people vaccinated against COVID-19. In some places, the incentives are working out, but others are struggling.
Arkansas has one of the lowest vaccination rates in the country despite offering several incentives. That includes giving out scratch-off lottery tickets and gift certificates from its game and fish commission. But the state has admitted that those giveaways just aren't working.
Experts say Arkansas needs to figure out what really does persuade people to get vaccinated. For some, it's not always material rewards.
“People are already feeling uncertain if the vaccine is entirely safe and effective, and really important. It's possible that they'll look at something like a small token incentive as a kind of payment. And then think 'I don't know if my sense of uncertainty can be bought with something that has a $20 value,’” said Jennifer Reich, a sociology professor at the University of Colorado-Denver.
Another thing that may prevent people from getting the vaccine is logistics. Some parents may be worried about child care, not only while they're getting a vaccine, but also days after the shot, if they experience side effects. Others may not have transportation to a vaccination site.
In these cases, it may be a better option to offer more functional or useful incentives.
“Some of those folks are motivated by having access at their workplace, by having time off while they get it, and making it as easy as possible to access,” said Reich.
But experts warn that whether it's about coronavirus or another illness, there will always be a group of people who are just not motivated to get vaccinated. Ultimately, it's best for public health officials to find the root of people's concerns about the shot before coming up with an incentive plan.