‘Free stuff’ could be Minnesota’s new vaccine pitch

Walz said his team will do "whatever it takes to motivate people."

Gov. Tim Walz speaks at a press conference at the Mall of America. (Facebook screenshot)

Gov. Tim Walz has proposed the use of incentives like shopping vouchers and fishing licenses for Minnesotans who receive a COVID-19 vaccination.

Walz spoke at the Mall of America Wednesday at an event intended to encourage children to get vaccinated. Currently, 62% of the population aged 16 and older have received at least one round of the vaccine. The governor is hoping to grow that number to at least 70%.

Walz said some states are offering prizes that are “a little gimmicky,” when “what really gets people is knowing they can take the afternoon off, or if they’re not feeling good the next day, they’ll still get paid and their employer will let them.”

However, he said his team will do “whatever it takes to motivate people” and is considering a list of possible incentives.

“I don’t know if there’s a lot of data or research that’s been done on it but I think the folks in business and human psychology would tell you: if there’s a chance to get something free, it might encourage you to do something,” Walz added.

Teddy Tschann, the governor’s spokesperson, told the Star Tribune that Walz is “open to all ideas.”

“We’re going to get creative with our campaign to encourage Minnesotans to get vaccinated,” he said.

Minnesota’s consideration of vaccine incentives follows the initiative of several other states and corporations nationwide.

Some states like Ohio have offered vaccine recipients a ticket to their “vax-a-million” lottery pool. In the lottery, five vaccinated individuals will win $1 million. Maryland has a similar program called VaxCash in which a prize of $40,000 will be awarded to one person daily.

In Maine, vaccinated individuals can redeem fishing licenses, tickets to sporting events, or L.L. Bean shopping vouchers.

In Minnesota, the St. Paul Saints baseball team offered ticket vouchers for fans who got vaccinated at their opening game. Local breweries have also hosted vaccination events and offered free beverages to visitors.

State leadership’s urgency to get people vaccinated represents a total change of tactics after experiencing vaccine shortages just months ago. After a period of vaccine scarcity, the U.S. is expected to face a surplus of unused vaccines.

Already, Minnesota has one of the highest vaccination rates in the nation. Currently ranked the 13th highest vaccinated state, nearly three million people have been immunized.


Katie Larsen

Katie Larsen is a cartoonist and writer for Alpha News.