By Michael Jarvis London UK
A bewildering array of incentives have come to characterise the drive to get people around the world vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus.
From Cayman and the rest of the Caribbean to the UK, the US, Canada, Africa, and every continent, country and capital between and beyond, the vaccine versus virus race is on.
With vaccine-hesitancy - and outright resistance in some respects, governments, health authorities and vaccine campaigners have devised novel (and sometimes audacious) incentives to persuade the public to get vaccinated.
‘Joints for jabs’ (that’s free marijuana, really) in some parts of the US, free flights and hotel stays in Cayman, and even a land raffle in Antigua, point to the urgency to get vaccination levels up to the point for countries and the world to return to a degree of normality.
In the United States, the Biden administration has designated June as a “month of action” to boost Covid-19 vaccination rates chasing a July 4th Independence Day target for 70 per cent of the country to get at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.
From million-dollar cash prizes to free childcare, debt-free education, and free beer, companies offering gift cards to employees, concert tickets, and yes, free marijuana in Seattle, a massive push is on as America revs-up its vaccination campaign.
In West Virginia a prize draw includes trucks...and guns.
“The more people we get vaccinated, the more success we’re going to have in the fight against this virus,” Biden said in a national address this week.
Not to be outdone, the Antigua and Barbuda government is raffling a parcel of land with everyone who has had their first or first or second vaccine dose offered a raffle ticket for the 8,000 sq ft plot.
Mobile phone top-ups, shopping and gas station vouchers are also part of the package of vaccination incentives being offered in Antigua.
In the UK which has had one of the top vaccination roll-outs globally, love is in the air as efforts focus on getting young adults to take their shot.
A match is being made between the vaccination and a match-making or dating app.
According to the UK's Guardian newspaper, in an eye-catching policy coinciding with the rollout of vaccinations for the under-30s, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has teamed up with popular dating apps to encourage take-up of the programme.
It reports that users of the dating apps Tinder, Match, Hinge, Bumble, Badoo, Plenty of Fish, OurTime and Muzmatch will enjoy a series of benefits if they add their vaccination status to their profile, including virtual badges and stickers.
Most of the apps are also giving people who say they have been vaccinated free bonuses such as a certain number of “boosts”, which promote their profile to potential dates, offering the tantalising prospect of a greater stake in what has already been billed a post-pandemic “summer of love”.
The scheme is entirely voluntary and not connected to any medical records or the NHS app, which means it is based on trust.
Meanwhile, in Israel, another global leader in vaccinations, free pizza and beer is on the menu to top-up their already impressive vaccination campaign.
Down under in Australia incentives to take a COVID-19 vaccine include complementary and alternative medicines...though not for the coronavirus and its variants.
Elsewhere, the Economist news magazine reports that in China where the pandemic started, the Sinovac jab which it now produces is being offered with a unique package of incentives including cartons of eggs, chicken wings, flour and free entry to parks.
In parts of India, women are given gold nose pins and men are given hand blenders along with tickets for prize draws.
In Thailand, one town is offering cows to spur vaccinations, and in Hong Kong getting the jab could mean winning an apartment valued at US$1.4million.
Back in the United States, a 22-year-old woman won a US$1m home in Ohio’s “vax-a-million” lottery.