You couldn’t pay Patricia Wrye to get her COVID shot. The Lebanon native says she not an anti-vaxxer. She even takes the flu shot most years. She just feels like somehow she’d be one to come down with rare complications.
“I’d like to wait and see how this first wave of inoculations go, and I might consider it later,” she says.
And even though experts recommend the vaccine for 45-year-olds like her with some medical history, she has too many questions.
“The experts have yo-yoed on their opinions so many times, I don’t trust that at this point,” Wrye says.
Tennessee has no plans to join the states offering financial incentives to stoke interest in COVID vaccinations, even though they’re showing some promise elsewhere.
But money could move the needle for some. Paola Delvalle, a 24-year-old who just wrapped up a graduate degree at Cumberland University, says she’d consider it if she were in West Virginia, where they’re giving away $100 savings bonds to anyone under 35 who gets the vaccine.
“You give them $100 to put a shot in them, I don’t think they’ll ask questions. They’ll just think of what they’ll do with that $100,” she says. “I would think that.”
Delvalle is expecting her first child, so she’s decided to wait on her vaccine given the lack of data on pregnant women.
Tennessee health officials tell WPLN News they have no plans to start dangling incentives to up vaccinations. But they do seem to be showing promise elsewhere. Ohio is giving away $1 million dollars a week in a vaccine lottery. The initiative is being credited with reviving the pace of vaccinations among young people, which had fallen off this month.
North Carolina, which already has some of the South’s highest vaccination rates, is starting an incentive program. The state is offering $25 cash cards in a handful of counties that need a boost. Dr. Mandy Cohen, who leads North Carolina’s health department, says they’re also available to anyone who drives someone to get a shot.
“This is a team sport,” Cohen said in her virtual fireside chat this week. “So we wanted to recognize that we need everyone to help.”
While other Southern states have leaned more on PSAs than promotions, individual cities are announcing new incentives by the day. Nashville has a free beer or coffee program through the end of the month and more incentives in the works.
Local health officials are trying to avoid another COVID surge as people become more comfortable getting together — vaccinated or not.