November 11, 2021
Why Schools Are Offering Money, and More, to Get Kids Vaccinated
With the CDC recommendation of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 5 to 11, schools across the country are offering incentives to boost vaccination rates and protect their communities. Last week, Dr. Emily Largent spoke to TIME about whether or not these incentives are actually effective.
Emily Largent, an assistant professor of medical ethics and health policy at the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine, says “small, guaranteed incentives” tend to work better than big prizes that aren’t guaranteed, like lotteries. She notes that $100 is unlikely to sway someone who is opposed to vaccines, but it could help ease logistical barriers to vaccination, including transportation costs or time off from work.
“To the extent that offering that small cash incentive helps overcome those barriers, it can be really helpful for getting people who are open to being vaccinated across the line and removing barriers that are in their path,” Largent says.
“I’m an ethicist. I like when people do things for the right reasons. I think protecting yourself and your community is a really great reason to be vaccinated,” Largent says. “But I’m an ethicist who lives in the real world, and we know that people have financial barriers. Sometimes they’re hesitant. They have concerns, and we should meet people where they’re at. Financial incentives can be part of this multi-pronged approach.”