New Mexico Businesses and Organizations Helping to Get Vaccinated Against Coronavirus | Local News
It never hurts to receive a cash bonus or a tortilla after receiving a coronavirus vaccine.
At Bueno Foods in Albuquerque, fully immunized employees received $ 70 each, and people who attended a company-hosted immunization clinic each received a package of tortillas.
Many companies, groups, and states are hoping to lure people into coronavirus vaccination clinics with treats, tickets, tuition, and cash prizes.
Some incentives are designed for employees and others are intended for customers and the public. The incentives, some of which have been offered for weeks, recognize that sometimes it is necessary to get people to do good deeds.
Following the lead of several local businesses, New Mexico joined many states last week in offering a chance to win big prizes for those who are vaccinated. For some, however, the incentives raise questions about the ethics of incentives and the proper use of tax dollars by states.
A national organization that investigates and studies health issues says the incentives have the potential to help, but can backfire. The strongest incentive, the Kaiser Family Foundation said late last month, would be a vaccine with full approval from the Food and Drug Administration, as opposed to the three vaccines that currently have an authorization to use. emergency.
Demand for vaccines has slowed as most of those who were enthusiastic about them have already been vaccinated. That leaves a large group in New Mexico and nationwide who either don’t trust vaccines or intend to wait and see what happens. About 56 percent of eligible New Mexico residents are fully immunized.
N. Ana Garner, a Santa Fe lawyer who opposes the coronavirus vaccine and mask warrants, said she believed the state’s incentives defied federal law. The state-granted inducements represent “a form of pressure and coercion, which is illegal under the emergency use authorization provision” of the FDA, Garner said in an email.
“If the shots were safe and effective, which they are not either, no one would need incentives to take them,” she said.
The state said the US Treasury Department has confirmed that stimulus money from the US bailout could be used for state lotteries, cash payments and other incentives to increase vaccination rates.
The state announced a series of incentives last week, including the possibility for a vaccinated individual to win a cash prize of $ 5 million. Further cash rewards will be given out during the Vax 2 the Max raffle. And some other gifts will be distributed, such as hunting and fishing licenses, to those who have been vaccinated.
State government-supervised vaccination lotteries have also emerged in Oregon, California, Ohio, West Virginia, and many other states. New Mexico health officials on Wednesday spoke of progress in Ohio after the state announced lottery prizes for the coronavirus shots. The idea is to convince the undecided to get vaccinated.
Still, the concept is not popular with everyone. State Representative Jim Townsend d’Artesia called it a waste of taxpayer dollars and a reward for simply doing the right thing.
State Senator Cliff Pirtle of Roswell said the payments made the vaccination effort bad.
“We have such a safe vaccine that we have to pay people to get it,” Pirtle said facetiously.
But many recipients of incentive programs said they were appropriate and fun. The Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe said 98% of its staff were already fully vaccinated before the state’s incentives were announced.
The college offered its own incentives – a $ 50 Visa gift card for those who were fully immunized, plus a half-day off for employees if 90 percent of staff and faculty were fully immunized. and another half day off if they hit 95 percent.
“It was wonderful,” said Laurie Logan Brayshaw, director of sponsored programs at the institute, which refers to grants from government and private sources. “It was just a big thank you” from the administration, she added.
She said the cost of health care, lost wages and loss of life from the coronavirus far outweigh the incentive costs.
“It was actually a bonding experience,” she said of the institute’s employees. “We are a community and we value our health and safety.”
Various incentives, ranging from cash to tickets, have been or soon will be offered by many states. But companies and individual organizations do it too: Albertsons, Trader Joe’s, NFL, New York Yankees and Mets, Rowan University in New Jersey (tuition and housing), Dollar General, Kroger supermarkets, Krispy Kreme. Donuts and others.
The New Mexico United football team distributed nearly 1,000 tickets to those who were vaccinated, a spokesperson said. The team had a giveaway program and two tailgate vaccination clinics in which tickets were distributed.
Rika Fernandez, 21, a vaccinated retail worker at New Mexico United, used her free tickets to take her mother, Sarah Economidy, to United’s opener last month.
“It was awesome,” Economidy, 49, said.
Anthony Arias, warehouse manager at Bueno Foods, said he had spoken to some of his employees about their concerns. “There’s just a lot of misinformation out there,” he said. “The incentives we have offered have certainly motivated some people.”
These incentives included a $ 70 bonus for employees who were fully vaccinated against the coronavirus by the company’s 70th birthday on May 18. The company also offered 10 cash gifts of $ 100 in a raffle for vaccinated employees.
And at a vaccination clinic supervised last month in Albuquerque by Bueno Foods and the state’s Department of Environment, Bueno handed out packages of his tortillas.
The Kaiser Family Foundation reported that a relatively small percentage of those who were not vaccinated say they would be more likely to get the vaccine if their state government offered them $ 100, that they received free transportation. to a clinic, that they were getting tickets for a sporting event. or a concert, or presented with a $ 20 food or drink coupon.
The foundation said four in ten people who have not pledged to get the pictures feel “unfairly under pressure” from the government, the media, family and friends. And so the seductions could “backfire on some people,” the foundation wrote late last month.
Dr Tracie Collins, secretary of the New Mexico Department of Health, said other states had increased their vaccination rates by offering an incentive. Some people are firmly entrenched in their opposition, but New Mexico officials are hopeful that a large group of evasive people will be enticed into getting the shot.
There is evidence, Collins said, that it works.