64: Vaccine Incentives Explained

Kimberly Hood, Assistant Secretary for the Office of Public Health at the Louisiana Department of Health, explains why the state expanded its COVID-19 vaccine incentive program to include payments for kids who get the new pediatric vaccine; Sami Jo...


Kimberly Hood, Assistant Secretary for the Office of Public Health at the Louisiana Department of Health, explains why the state expanded its COVID-19 vaccine incentive program to include payments for kids who get the new pediatric vaccine; Sami Jo Freeman, Deputy Communications Director at the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, shares how the state’s vaccination lottery led many residents to become vaccine advocates; ASTHO publishes a new blog article about lawsuits filed against COVID-19 vaccine requirements; and ASTHO teams with other organizations to present a webinar exploring strategies to enhance supply chain resilience.

Louisiana Department of Health webpage: Shot for $100 vaccine incentive program extended to Nov. 30

Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services webpage: Be A MO VIP

ASTHO Blog Article: The Shifting Legal Landscape of COVID-19 Vaccine Requirements

Webinar webpage: Avoiding Catastrophe – Strategies for Enhancing Supply Chain Resilience

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Transcript

ROBERT JOHNSON:

This is Public Health Review Morning Edition for Tuesday, November 9th, 2021. I’m Robert Johnson.

Here’s today’s news from the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials.

 

KIMBERLY HOOD:

We know going into the holidays, we expect there will be more transmission; but we just want to make that we get as many people safely through that vaccination series before the holidays as we possibly can.

JOHNSON:

That’s Kimberly Hood, assistant secretary for the Office of Public Health at the Louisiana Department of Health.

For the last two months, the state has offered $100 Visa gift cards to those willing to get a COVID-19 shot. A week ago, the Shot for 100 program was expanded. We hear more about it from Assistant Secretary Kim Hood in today’s morning conversation.

Why did the state decide to expand the Shot For 100 program to include children and kids who are in college?

HOOD:

So, our Shot For 100 program really began as a pilot.

We started in the institutes of higher education— so our four-year, two-year, and technical colleges—that 18- to 29-year-old group, high rates of transmission.

We really wanted to see if $100 would be a little bit of a nudge. We know that $100 is not really enough to truly incentivize someone, to change someone’s mind; but there are lots of folks out there who just need to make getting a vaccine a priority.

So, we started in that group; we had some good success. And around that time, our 12- to 17-year-old folks became eligible, and we really saw that it was a motivator there. So, when we started to think about the five to 11 group, we thought, one, we want parents to get their kids vaccinated.

So, sooner is always better, right, and we’re headed into that holiday season. So, we thought, “What a great time for parents to get a little bit of extra money,” heading into Thanksgiving and holiday shopping. So, we just wanted to make sure everyone was able participate who wanted to. And, again, we know it’s just a little nudge, but we’re really hopeful.

And we want to make sure that we always partner incentives with the kind of consistent messaging that we know people need: talking to your pediatrician; talking to your trusted advisor—whether that’s your pastor, or someone in your community, family members who have been vaccinated. So, we find that incentives work best when they’re partnered with that really solid community-base messaging.

JOHNSON:

The information on your website says that—as of the end of October, roughly—you have been able to get about 19,000 people vaccinated through the program?

HOOD:

Yes—and, actually, we’re up over 25,000 now. We really feel like it’s starting to pick up. So, you know, sometimes we are busy, we’re promoting something, but it takes a little while for the message to kind of get its way out into the community.

So, we have people calling and asking about the Shot For 100 program, making sure that the site that they’re visiting is a participating site. We update that website every day, so you can always go to “Shot For 100,” click on “Locations,” and find out what the closest one to you is.

JOHNSON:

This is not the first incentive program that’s been tried around the country, and there’s even been some reports that say they don’t work.

It looks like yours, though, is doing just the opposite. Why do you think you’re having success when others haven’t been able to achieve that?

HOOD:

Well, I think that part of it is that we learned early on, in trying to build a really equitable vaccine distribution model—which we’ve done, I think, a good job of here in the state of Louisiana, it was a real focus for us—that an incentive is never going to be what gets somebody to change their mind.

It really is just a little nudge, it’s just a bit of behavioral economics, right. So, you know that you want to get the vaccine, you know that you’ve got two or three kids, and they’re in school, and you need to go pick them up, you’ve got to go to—what is that little bit of a nudge to get a parent, for example, to make it a priority to go and get that done.

So, we haven’t really thought of incentives as sort of our way to convince people. We know that convincing people that the vaccine is safe is really a series of conversations, lots of conversations. And it’s not just with the Department of Health, it’s with those trusted advisors that I mentioned; it’s talking to your doctor and really having an in-depth conversation.

What we really want to do with our incentives is just get people to make the vaccine a priority.

 

JOHNSON:

In Missouri, officials used a lottery to encourage vaccination. It started as the Delta variant tore across the state this summer. Between July and October, vaccinated residents could enter for a chance at one of 900 prizes worth $10,000 each.

Missouri Department of Health deputy communications director, Sami Jo Freeman, says many prize winners quickly became vaccine advocates.

SAMI JO FREEMAN:

So, every time we would have 180 new people who were, all of a sudden, sharing our Facebook posts and telling their friends that they got vaccinated. Because, you know, for some people it’s a very private decision; but for others they wanted to make it very public.

So, every time that we had that new wave of winners, it was a new wave of positivity here in the state. And we saw that through the media, we saw that through social media, and saw that definitely through our MO VIPs.

JOHNSON:

On Friday, Freeman tells us how the Missouri vaccination lottery helped the state push back on vaccine misinformation.

 

Last week, we told you about court challenges to orders and laws banning masks in schools. This week, ASTHO’s director of state health policy, Maggie Davis, has a new article looking at lawsuits filed against COVID-19 vaccine requirements.

Her review finds that courts have blocked only a few of them due to concerns about religious liberty. Read more in her latest report using the link in the show notes.

 

Finally this morning, the supply chain has been a big story as dozens of ocean-going cargo ships wait to unload their goods at California ports. ASTHO is teaming with the Center for Homeland Defense and Security and others to examine strategies to enhance supply chain resilience.

A webinar on the topic is set for next Tuesday, November 16th, at 2 pm Eastern time. You can find a link to sign up in the show notes.

 

That’ll do it for today’s report.

 

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Join us tomorrow for more ASTHO news and information.

I’m Robert Johnson. You’re listening to Public Health Review Morning Edition. Have a great day.