As vaccination rates fizzle across the country, states hope free joints, a round at a NASCAR track, and other perks will spark interest

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As Covid vaccination rates flatten or fall across the country, public and private concerns are increasingly turning to incentives — from free donuts to multimillion-dollar payouts, and even marijuana cigarettes or a spin on a NASCAR track — in an attempt to convince Americans to get immunized.

On Monday, the Washington State Alcohol and Cannabis Council launched its “Joints for prickingprogram authorizing marijuana dispensaries to give a free joint to every resident who is vaccinated until July 12. A similar effort has reportedly started in Arizona.

Other states, such as New Jersey and Connecticut, are more old-fashioned and offer a free beer or non-alcoholic drink to encourage more people to get vaccinated against Covid. And last month, the Alabama Department of Public Health and other agencies teamed up with the state’s Talladega Superspeedway to offer two free laps of the famed track to those over 16 who get a chance.

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Ohio and Maryland, on the other hand, turned to cold, hard money.

In May, Maryland held the first of its $40,000 lottery draws for people who have been vaccinated. Forty consecutive days of $40,000 prize draws will end on July 4 with a final draw for a $400,000 payout.

Ohio also holds a series of cash prize draws, although it “Vax-a-Millioncompetition ups the ante considerably.

On the private front, Krispy Kreme became one of the first companies in March to roll out a nationwide Covid vaccine incentive, offering a free glazed donut to every adult with a vaccination card. Earlier this month, the company said it had already given away more than 1.5 million donuts. (The offer remains valid for the rest of the year.)

“We were the first national brand to launch a campaign to show support for Americans who chose to get vaccinated, and we hoped others would join us,” said Dave Skena, chief marketing officer at Krispy Kreme.

“So it’s very gratifying to see so many companies, organizations, communities and even state governments encouraging and encouraging people to protect themselves and others by getting vaccinated.”

The latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that about half of the US population has had at least one injection — and yet the pace of Covid vaccinations has slowed across the country.

According to Bob Bollinger, professor of infectious diseases at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and inventor of the emocha Health app, incentives can become increasingly important to get the needle out of here.

“It really depends on what the barriers people have to getting vaccinated,” Bollinger said. The higher those barriers are, the harder they are to overcome, he added.

A handful of states have reported that vaccine incentive programs have increased local vaccination rates in some demographics after recent declines.

Ohio, for its part, said vaccination rates doubled in some counties after the state vaccination lottery was announced.

Recent data shows that the gambit may be more effective under: certain demographics, but with little downside overall, according to a report from Morning Consult.

The poll of 2,200 adults, including nearly 1,600 people who have not been vaccinated, found that men are more likely than women to say that these offers would lead them to sign up for an injection. Democrats, more than Republicans, also said they would be more likely to get vaccinated if they could get free goods or services and, when broken down by generation, millennials would be the most likely to say that certain freebies would motivate them to indulge. to be vaccinated.

A previous survey by Blackhawk Network found that more than two-thirds of adults said they would accept a monetary incentive ranging from as little as $10 to as much as $1,000. A third said they would get vaccinated for $100 or less. Blackhawk Network surveyed more than 2,000 adults in January.

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— Kenneth Kiesnoski of CNBC contributed to this story.

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