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Lottery Incentives Don’t Increase COVID-19 Vaccination Rates

Editor’s note: Find the latest COVID-19 news and guidance in Medscape’s Coronavirus Resource Center.

Lottery-based incentives such as cash and prizes don’t appear to increase COVID-19 vaccination rates, according to a new research letter published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

In particular, researchers found that Ohio’s “Vax-a-Million” campaign wasn’t associated with an increase in vaccinations. In May, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine announced five $ 1 million cash prizes would go to vaccinated residents, and several states created similar programs to increase vaccination rates.

“State-based lotteries are of limited value in increasing vaccine uptake,” Allan Walkey, MD, one of the study authors and a professor of medicine at Boston University School of Medicine, said in a statement.

“Therefore, the resources devoted to vaccine lotteries may be more successfully invested in programs that target underlying reasons for vaccine hesitancy and low vaccine uptake,” he said.

Walkey and colleagues used CDC data to evaluate trends in vaccination rates among adults. They compared vaccination rates before and after the Ohio lottery with other states that didn’t have vaccine incentive programs.

Between April 15 and June 9, the daily vaccination rates among adults declined from 485 per 100,000 people to 101 per 100,000 people in Ohio and from 700 per 100,000 people to 97 per 100,000 people in states without lottery programs. Daily vaccination rates declined in both Ohio and the U.S. throughout May, and even after the Ohio lottery announcement, adult vaccination rates didn’t increase significantly.

Overall, the research team found that lottery-based incentive programs weren’t associated with an increase in COVID-19 vaccinations and that other factors likely led to additional vaccinations, such as expanded eligibility for shots. For instance, the Ohio lottery program was announced on May 12, just days after the FDA expanded the emergency use authorization for the Pfizer vaccine to ages 12-15.

“Prior evaluations of the Ohio vaccine incentive lottery did not account for other changes in COVID-19 vaccination rates in the United States, such as those that may have been due to expansion of vaccination to ages 12-15,” Walkey said.

Walkey and colleagues said they hope the findings will lead to a shift in focus by moving away from ineffective lotteries and toward other programs that may reduce vaccine hesitancy and increase vaccinations.

Sources

JAMA: “Lottery-Based Incentive in Ohio and COVID-19 Vaccination Rates.”

Boston University School of Medicine, “Lottery-Based Incentives Do Not Increase COVID-19 Vaccination Rates.”

Author: Carolyn Crist
Read more here >>> Medscape Medical News

Despite Ample Shots and Incentives, Vaccine Rates Lag Far Behind in the South

NASHVILLE — Public health departments have held vaccine clinics at churches. They have organized rides to clinics. Gone door to door. Even offered a spin around a NASCAR track for anyone willing to get a shot.

Still, the country’s vaccination campaign is sputtering, especially in the South, where there are far more doses than people who will take them.

As reports of new Covid-19 cases and deaths plummet, and as many Americans venture out mask-free into something approaching normalcy, the slowdown in vaccinations presents a new risk. As coronavirus variants spread and restrictions are eased, experts fear that the virus could eventually surge again in states like Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi, where fewer than half of adults have started the vaccination process.

“A lot of people have the sense, ‘Oh, dodged that bullet,’” said Dr. Jeanne Marrazzo, the director of the Division of Infectious Diseases at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. She added, “I don’t think people appreciate that if we let up on the vaccine efforts, we could be right back where we started.”

A range of theories has emerged about why the South, which as of Wednesday was home to eight of the 10 states with the lowest vaccination rates, lags behind the rest of the country: hesitancy from conservative white people, concerns among some Black residents, longstanding challenges when it comes to health care access and transportation.

The answer, interviews across the region revealed, was all of the above.

“It’s kind of a complex brew, and we’re teasing apart the individual pieces,” said Dr. W. Mark Horne, president of the Mississippi State Medical Association. He added: “There’s no magic bullet. There’s no perfect solution. There’s no pixie dust we can sprinkle on it.”

Vaccines, once a scarce commodity, are now widely available in the United States, and everyone age 12 and older is eligible for a shot. But daily vaccinations nationwide are down to about 1.1 million doses from a peak of more than 3.3 million doses a day in mid-April.

Barring a sudden uptick, the country will fall just short of President Biden’s goal of getting 70 percent of American adults a first dose by July 4. Through Tuesday, the country was on pace for 68 percent of adults to have received a first dose by the holiday.

Thirteen states, mostly in the Northeast and on the West Coast, have already given vaccines to at least 70 percent of adult residents, and several others remain on pace to do so in the coming weeks. Experts now believe that the United States may never reach herd immunity, the point at which the virus dies out, but Mr. Biden has said getting 70 percent of adults a shot by July 4 would constitute “a serious step toward a return to normal.”

But in parts of the South, it is uncertain whether that milestone is attainable anytime soon — or ever.

“I certainly don’t expect us to get to 70 percent by Fourth of July. I don’t know that we’ll get to 70 percent in Alabama,” said Dr. Karen Landers, Alabama’s assistant state health officer. “We just have a certain group of people, of all walks of life, that just aren’t going to get vaccinated.”

Time is of the essence, both to prevent new infections and to use the doses already distributed to states. With a three-month shelf life at refrigeration temperatures, millions of doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine are set to expire nationwide this month, prompting some governors to urgently plead that health providers use them soon.

As of Monday, more than 57,000 doses of the vaccine were set to expire this month in Arkansas, officials said. And in Tennessee, thousands of doses were sitting unused with looming expiration dates.

From rural Appalachian towns to urban centers like Memphis and Birmingham, Ala., the slowdown has forced officials to refine their pitches to skeptical residents. Among the latest offerings: mobile clinics, Facebook Live forums and free soccer tickets for those who get vaccinated.

In the small central Mississippi town of Forest, the Rev. Odee Akines implored congregants at his church to get vaccinated by sharing the story of his own nearly fatal brush with Covid, which included being hospitalized for 80 days and in a coma for roughly a month. In Alabama, Nick Saban, the championship-winning football coach, urged fans to get vaccinated so they could attend games safely this fall.

So far, there have been individual stories of success, but no major change in the trend. When Alabama officials set up a clinic at Talladega Superspeedway and let vaccine recipients drive around the famed track, about 100 people took them up on the offer. Dr. Landers said organizers had hoped for more people.

No single reason explains why the South’s vaccination campaign is faltering, which means that no one fix is likely to change the trend. Many common barriers to vaccination are not unique to the South, but are especially prevalent there.

Some Republicans distrust the government’s role in the development and promotion of the vaccines, polls show. Some Black people distrust the medical profession because of generations of discriminatory care and experiments. And others are busy, or biding their time, or unable to get to a vaccination site, or have unanswered questions.

Certainly, millions of Southerners have already been vaccinated, and the vaccination campaign around some large cities in the region, including Nashville and Charleston, S.C., has progressed far more quickly than in many rural areas. The vaccination rates in Virginia, Maryland, Delaware and Washington, D.C., have outpaced the national average.

But across much of the South, vaccine skepticism is pervasive. In Jackson, Miss., Felix Bell Sr., a warehouse supervisor, expressed concern about how quickly the vaccines were developed. He did not plan to get a shot.

“At first they said it’s going to take several years,” said Mr. Bell, who said he had previously recovered from Covid-19. “And then all of a sudden, it was ‘Boom.’” He added, “They’ve got to get more information about what happens down the line.”

The three vaccines granted emergency use authorization by the federal government have been shown to be safe and highly effective in preventing Covid-19. But Americans who were eager to get vaccinated already received their shots weeks ago. Now, health officials are trying new methods to convince the uninterested and the skeptical, and to keep case numbers down in the months ahead.

“My concern is the fall,” said Susanne Straif-Bourgeois, an epidemiologist at Louisiana State University Health in New Orleans. “Because then everyone goes back to school, to college, to universities.”

The national outlook has improved drastically in recent weeks. The country is averaging about 14,000 new cases a day, the fewest since testing became widely available, and deaths and hospitalizations have plummeted. Gov. Tate Reeves of Mississippi, a Republican, recently called Mr. Biden’s July 4 goal arbitrary, and said he was encouraged by the relatively low hospitalization and case numbers in his state, which has the country’s lowest vaccination rate.

But doctors have warned that the low vaccination numbers could make the South vulnerable to another wave of infections, a point that some are raising when pitching the vaccines to skeptical residents. Federal officials are especially worried about the highly transmissible Delta variant, first detected in India, which is increasingly prevalent in the United States. The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine appeared to offer protection against the Delta variant, officials said.

“If we don’t get our numbers up, we could be where we were last year, sheltering in place,” said William Parker, the president of the Birmingham City Council, who has proposed spending millions of dollars on vaccine incentives and who answered questions about vaccines on Monday as part of an online forum for residents.

In the sparsely populated rural communities in the northeast corner of Tennessee, officials say they have struggled less with convincing people to be vaccinated than with getting the shots to people who lack time, transportation or knowledge about the process. In one community, two vans have been retrofitted into rolling mobile vaccination sites, dispatched to churches and workplaces aimed at intercepting people as they go about their days.

There are modest signs of progress. The first weekend the vans were in operation, about 40 doses were given. But at a recent event, about 135 people got shots.

“We’ve always been slightly behind the rest of the country when it comes to infrastructure,” said Mark Stevans, the director of special projects for the First Tennessee Development District, the agency overseeing the effort. “And I’d argue that the vaccine is a critical piece of infrastructure.”

Across the region, doctors and public health officials repeatedly cited two factors as making a difference with the hardest-to-reach people: easy access and a personalized pitch.

Dr. Kelly Rodney Arnold, the founder of Clínica Médicos, which treats underserved and uninsured people in Chattanooga, Tenn., said she knew that the trust she had built over years with her patients, many of whom are Latino, would be critical in overcoming skepticism.

The vaccines’ staggered rollout, she said, had allowed misinformation to spread and had complicated the campaign.

“They’re not going to knock on the E.R.’s door to get a vaccination,” Dr. Arnold said. “They’re not going to approach something that’s novel and full of a lot of scary information surrounding it.”

Luke Ramseth contributed reporting from Jackson, Miss. Lazaro Gamio, Amy Schoenfeld Walker and Noah Weiland contributed reporting.

Author: Rick Rojas and Mitch Smith
This post originally appeared on NYT > U.S. News

Big Bucks and Savings: Vaccine Incentives Multiply

Vaccine Incentives Multiply

As COVID-19 vaccination rates slow in the US, companies and states are stepping up to offer a variety of incentives to encourage people to get their shots, including cash lotteries, flights, and date nights, according to Axios.

The various giveaways have been criticized by some, though health experts have said incentives can work for those who haven’t cited a particular personal reason for not getting vaccinated.

“Offering some of these benefits is a way to make the vaccine more appealing in the here and now because we’ve given someone a tangible reason to get vaccinated right now,” Emily Largent, PhD, a medical ethicist at the University of Pennsylvania, told Axios.

This month, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine announced a lottery for five residents to receive $ 1 million each, as well as drawings for full-ride college scholarships. Nearly 2.8 million Ohioans registered for the lottery, Axios reported, and the state announced the first winners this week.

Following Ohio’s example, Maryland announced it will hold 40 daily drawings for $ 40,000 each and a $ 400,000 Fourth of July jackpot. New York will also give away 50 4-year scholarships to any public college or university in the state for those ages 12-17 who get vaccinated by July 7, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Wednesday during a news briefing.

On Thursday, Minnesota announced a “Your Shot to Summer” incentive program, according to CBS News. Residents who receive their first vaccine dose by June 30 will be among 100,000 winners eligible to choose from nine prizes, including amusement park tickets, state park permits, fishing licenses, and gift cards.

California is the latest state to join the lottery list, announcing $ 116.5 million in prizes to encourage more people to get inoculated by June 15, according to The Associated Press. Gov. Gavin Newsom said 10 Californians will win $ 1.5 million each, which is the largest single award offered in any state so far. Another 30 people will win $ 50,000 each, and the next 2 million people who get shots will receive $ 50 gift cards, Newsom said Thursday.

Companies have joined the giveaway effort as well. In March, Krispy Kreme announced that vaccinated people can receive one glazed doughnut per day if they show their vaccination card. United Airlines is offering a year of free travel to five “grand prize” winners and 30 roundtrip flights to 30 winners throughout June.

On Thursday, CVS Health announced its #OneStepCloser sweepstakes will begin on June 1, which will include more than 1,000 prizes during the next 6 weeks. The list includes $ 5,000 and $ 500 giveaways for family reunions, 7-day cruises through Norwegian Cruise Line, vacation packages to Bermuda, a VIP trip to Super Bowl LVI in Los Angeles, and gift cards for dates on the Hinge dating app.

Kroger also announced a Community Immunity $ 5 Million Giveaway on Thursday, which will include five $ 1 million payouts and free groceries for a year for 50 people.

More companies and states announced their giveaway programs this week after the White House pledged to fund incentives to meet President Joe Biden’s goal of getting 70% of U.S. adults to receive at least one shot by July 4. The Treasury Department released guidance on Tuesday that explains how states can use federal funds from the American Rescue Plan to encourage people to get vaccinated, including lotteries, cash prizes, and other giveaways, according to NBC News.

About 62% of the adult population has received at least one vaccine dose, according to the latest CDC tally updated on Thursday, and nearly 51% of adults are considered fully vaccinated. About half of the entire U.S. population has received a shot.

“Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine has unlocked a secret,” Andy Slavitt, the White House senior adviser for COVID-19 response, said Tuesday during a news briefing.

“People do care about getting vaccinated, but it turns out they also have other things they care about,” he said. “Some of those things might encourage people to think about what might otherwise be a lower priority.”

SOURCES:

Axios: “Companies, states up the ante on vaccine incentives.”

The Baltimore Sun: “Maryland to offer COVID vaccine lottery incentive with $ 2 million in cash prizes.

Twitter: @NYGovCuomo, May 26, 2021.

CBS News: “Minnesota Governor Tim Waltz announces COVID-19 vaccine incentives.

The Associated Press: “California giving $ 116 million to people who get virus shots.”

Krispy Kreme: “COVID-19 Vaccine Offer.”

United Airlines: “Your Shot to Fly Sweepstakes.

CVS Health: “CVS Health announces sweepstakes to encourage vaccinations and thank customers.”

Kroger: “COVID-19 Vaccine Sweepstakes.”

NBC News: “Biden admin pledges to help fund Covid-19 shots incentive programs like Ohio’s Vax-a-Million lottery.”

CDC: “COVID-19 Vaccinations in the United States.”

C-SPAN: “White House COVID-19 Response Team Briefing, May 25, 2021.”

Editor’s note: Find the latest COVID-19 news and guidance in Medscape’s Coronavirus Resource Center.

Author:
This post originally appeared on Medscape Medical News Headlines

Beer? Money? States and Cities Offer Incentives to Get Vaccinated.

Scoring a dose of the coronavirus vaccine in America, once the equivalent of a winning lottery ticket, has started to resemble something else: a clearance sale.

So much so that some states and cities, which are struggling to fill appointments as the demand for vaccine wanes, are turning to an array of not-so-subtle incentives to get shots into the arms of more Americans.

New Jersey is offering a “shot and a beer” for residents who get their first vaccine dose in May and visit participating breweries in the state. Detroit is giving out $ 50 prepaid cards to anyone who drives a resident to a vaccine site. And as an enticement for state employees to get the vaccine, Maryland is offering a $ 100 payment, Gov. Larry Hogan announced on Monday.

“Incentives like this are another way to reinforce the importance of getting vaccinated, and we strongly encourage businesses across the state to consider offering incentives to their workers as well,” Mr. Hogan, a Republican, said in a statement. “These vaccines are safe and effective, they’re free, and they’re readily available with or without an appointment.”

The strategy comes as public health experts acknowledge that the United States is unlikely to achieve herd immunity, the point at which enough Americans have either been vaccinated or infected to mitigate the virus.

It also is a reminder of the hesitancy of people to get the vaccine and the challenge leaders face in convincing them that it is safe.

But will the enticements work?

“As humans we often respond better to carrots than sticks,” Dr. Megan Ranney, an emergency physician at Brown University in Rhode Island who specializes in public health research, said in an interview on Monday.

Dr. Ranney said that vaccination campaigns were more effective when they use language that doesn’t imply a sense of duty or obligation to get the shot. Saying that there is a “vaccine reserved for you” is a better approach, according to Dr. Ranney, who said she was concerned about continuing hesitancy over vaccination.

But Arthur Caplan, a professor of medical ethics at the New York University Grossman School of Medicine, questioned the effectiveness of incentive programs in an interview on Monday.

“I think the resistance and hesitancy is deeper than you’re going to be able to solve with a $ 100 incentive or something like that,” Dr. Caplan said.

In New Jersey, Gov. Phil Murphy, a Democrat, said on Monday that residents 21 years of age and older who get at least one dose of a vaccine in May were eligible for a free beer if they show their vaccination card at one of several participating breweries. The program, introduced in conjunction with the Brewers Guild of New Jersey, naturally carries the moniker “a shot and a beer.”

Connecticut has a similar program, in which residents who have received at least one dose of a vaccine can get a free beverage — alcoholic or nonalcoholic — at participating restaurants in the state for part of May.

In Detroit, the city announced last week that it would offer $ 50 prepaid gift cards to anyone who drives a resident to select vaccination sites run by the city’s Health Department.

There is no limit on how much people can earn driving Detroit residents to get vaccinated, but those who make $ 600 or more will have to fill out a W-9 form, city officials said.

In one of the more widely publicized plans to boost vaccination rates, Gov. Jim Justice of West Virginia, a Republican, said last week that the state would give $ 100 savings bonds to 16- to 35-year-olds who get a Covid-19 vaccine. On Monday, Mr. Justice said that he was looking at other incentives amid difficulties trying to set up a savings bond program, WVNews reported.

In Los Angeles, a City Council member and a multifaith cultural arts center offered a free bag of produce to anyone who visited their free vaccine site on Friday.

Manny Fernandez contributed reporting.

Author: Neil Vigdor
This post originally appeared on NYT > U.S. News

India considers over $1 billion in cash incentives for every chip maker setting up in country – media

The world’s second-biggest cellphone manufacturer, India, wants to lure semiconductor companies to the country to boost its smartphone assembly industry and strengthen its electronics supply chain, sources told Reuters.

“The government will give cash incentives of more than $ 1 billion to each company which will set up chip fabrication units,” an unnamed senior government official was quoted by the agency as saying. “We’re assuring them that the government will be a buyer and there will also be mandates in the private market [for companies to buy locally made chips],” the official added.

A second government source, who also declined to be identified, said the authorities had not yet decided how to disburse the cash incentives, and had asked the industry for feedback.

According to the sources, India wants to establish reliable suppliers for its electronics and telecoms industry to cut its dependence on China. Chips made locally will be designated as “trusted sources” and can be used in products ranging from CCTV cameras to 5G equipment, the first said.
Also on rt.com China plans to dominate this century through semiconductor chips, which are ‘THE NEW OIL’ – entrepreneur to Keiser Report
China’s soaring imports of semiconductors, the rise in the electronics industries, and the jump in technology use during the pandemic, have combined to create a perfect storm on the global semiconductor market, the supply chain of which is strongly interconnected.

All this led to a global shortage of semiconductors, which are now perceived as the ‘new oil,’ with governments across the world pushing for the construction of semiconductor plants. Currently, Taiwan and South Korea together account for a massive 83% of global processor chip output and 70% of memory chip production.

For more stories on economy & finance visit RT’s business section

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