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Data: Ohio Department of Health; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

For those who haven't been convinced to get a vaccine yet, companies have begun offering everything from date nights to tropical vacations to coax Americans to get the shot.

Why it matters: The giveaways are just the latest examples of increasingly lucrative rewards, including Ohio's $1 million lottery prizes, aimed at luring the hesitant.

It started this spring with free donuts from Krispy Kreme. But now more companies and states are upping the ante.

  • CVS Health's prizes include giveaways of $5,000 for family reunions, one-week cruises, dates from dating app Hinge and more.
  • United Airlines is offering MileagePlus members who upload their vaccination cards by June 22 a chance to win free flights for a year.

Since Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine announced the $1 million lottery and chances for college scholarships on May 12, nearly 2.8 million Ohioans registered for the lottery by getting a shot, the state said. It announced its first winners on Wednesday.

  • Ohio is still a bit behind the national average, with only about 40% of its population fully vaccinated. But the state has seen a recent uptick.

Other states appear to be taking notes.

The other side: Some Republicans in Ohio have called the lottery 'a frivolous use of taxpayer dollars,' the Guardian writes. They are pushing legislation that would ban government, insurers or businesses from offering incentives for shots "or even requesting that people get vaccinated," according to the Ohio Capital Journal.

The cynic might say these incentives are simply great marketing, said Emily Largent, a medical ethicist at the University of Pennsylvania who has written about paying people to get vaccinated. But giveaways can be effective among those people who don’t have any deep-seated reason not to be 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," Largent told Axios.
  • But Largent is less convinced about the value when the government offers perks for shots compared to other public health tools. "I have yet to see statistics that have been terribly compelling about how many people are holding out because they needed to see a little benefit," she said.

One of the most successful incentives so far may have been the CDC's announcement that vaccinated people could take off their masks. Online interest in vaccines spiked right after that announcement, according to new CDC data reported by CNN.

  • "This shows incentives matter," Jonathan Reiner, professor of medicine and surgery at George Washington University School of Medicine, told CNN.

Go deeper

May 27, 2021 - Health

Minnesotans can get a free state parks pass if they get vaccinated

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz speaking at a press conference in April. Photo: Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

The first 100,000 Minnesotans who get vaccinated against the coronavirus between Memorial Day weekend and the end of June will be eligible for free state parks passes, free fishing licenses or other rewards, Gov. Tim Walz (D) announced Thursday.

Why it matters: The incentives are part of the state's effort to increase vaccinations. 61% of Minnesotans 12 years and older have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, but the pace of doses administered daily has slowed since its peak in April, according to the Minnesota Star Tribune.

May 27, 2021 - Health

The Fauci effect: Interest spikes in health crisis communication

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

A number of U.S. colleges and universities say they've seen a surge of students who say the COVID-19 crisis inspired them to pursue the public health field, and crisis communication in particular.

Why it matters: The pandemic exposed the need for and challenges of well-executed public health messaging — particularly in a time rife with misinformation campaigns and polarizing politics.

May 28, 2021 - Health

Small number of Big Ten athletes had myocarditis after COVID-19

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Only about 2% of college athletes who recovered from COVID-19 were later diagnosed with myocarditis, or inflammation of the heart, according to a new study published Thursday in JAMA Cardiology.

Why it matters: The study, with some of the most comprehensive data yet on the cardiac condition connected to COVID-19, reveals its prevalence is less than previously recorded.