POINT / COUNTERPOINT: Question: Should Colorado hold a vaccine raffle? | Notice
Item: Dr Matthew Wynia
I’m not usually a fan of lotteries – it’s a tax for people who are bad at math, my math teacher once joked. But unlike a lottery, which requires the purchase of a ticket, entry to the COVID-19 vaccination raffle is automatic and free for anyone who gets vaccinated.
Here is why I am in their favor.
People get vaccinated for two reasons: to protect themselves and to protect others.
The first reason is selfish, and that’s enough for a lot of people. I’m an infectious disease specialist and I’m over 50, so for me self-protection was reason enough. I got the vaccine as soon as I could, like pretty much every other doctor.
But the second reason is not selfish – in fact, it is altruistic.
Some people who have not yet been vaccinated are true conspiracy theorists. But many others aren’t so scared, because they just don’t see the benefit. They think their personal risk of catching a bad case of COVID-19 is low, and assume they are right.
For these people, the main reason they would get vaccinated is because they feel obligated to protect others. They get vaccinated, with its possible side effects, because they want to help our community get herd immunity and they don’t want to risk passing it on to others if they catch a mild or asymptomatic case.
But, let’s face it, not everyone has a strong enough sense of duty to protect others to get them out of the fence and into a vaccination clinic.
Protecting others is sometimes called an “externality” in the decision to be vaccinated because it is an “external” benefit – a benefit that goes to someone other than the person vaccinated.
The idea of a financial incentive – like a chance to win a million dollars – is to turn that external benefit into an internal benefit. It’s about rewarding people for the benefits they provide to others by getting vaccinated.
Entering a raffle is of course only one form of financial incentive, and you might think it would be better to use another. For example, why not pay everyone who gets vaccinated $ 5?
It’s not a bad idea, and it would work for some people. But for others, the chance to win a million dollars will be more of a motivation. Lotteries are popular because many people will eagerly trade $ 5 for a possible million.
Plus, there is some evidence that the idea of the raffle works. Ohio launched the first statewide COVID-19 vaccine raffle, and in its first week, vaccinations increased 55% for people 20 to 49 and an incredible 94% among adolescents!
Some objected to using financial incentives to encourage vaccination if they are coercive, but a single raffle entry is hardly coercive. Additionally, coercion usually suggests that someone is threatened, not rewarded, for doing something they don’t want to do.
A more significant objection is that a raffle does not address some underlying reasons why some people do not get vaccinated, such as mistrust of the health care system or difficulty taking time off work. These other issues should not be ignored by setting up a raffle.
Finally, maybe the idea of a raffle just doesn’t interest you. Fair enough, but it appeals to some who have been on the fence. Achieving collective immunity is difficult, and one approach won’t work for everyone. But collective immunity is our ticket out of this pandemic, just as it was with diphtheria, polio and smallpox – each of which was once a global plague. We have to work from all angles to get people vaccinated.
Counterpoint: Rep. Andres Pico
Colorado is trying to get more people to get vaccinated with a payment of $ 1 million, as well as $ 50,000 in scholarships so high school kids can go to college.
The scholarship lottery is particularly problematic as it is increasingly evident that a number of young men in the lottery target age range are suffering from heart inflammation as a result of the vaccine. While that number is small, the CDC called an emergency meeting this week to address the issue.
The only reason to spend fabricated or borrowed dollars on stimulus projects is if the stimulus projects are necessary anyway and fall within the responsibility and jurisdiction of a government. Otherwise, dollars are taken out of the economy, depriving the private sector of the ability to invest and use them more profitably. The economy would rebound much faster if the government’s heavy hand were lifted.
COVID lottery spending does not meet these criteria, both because it is unnecessary and because it is not the responsibility of the state government to ensure that citizens are vaccinated.
Infection rates are dropping statewide. More and more counties are being declared “it’s all clear”. Those who have had COVID-19 are immune and do not need to be vaccinated. If you count those who have had COVID-19, who have been vaccinated, or who are at extremely low risk, Colorado’s “herd immunity” has likely been affected. Therefore, the lottery is not necessary.
In addition, the lottery represents a misuse of funds, which are supposed to help us recover from the economic disaster caused by the government last year. Rewarding a lucky few for getting the vaccine does nothing to fix the economy.
Injecting a massive amount of federal dollars into the economy is a bad idea for other reasons as well. Much of this money is simply printed or borrowed for the future. Our country has never seen this level of artificial spending. We are taking on a long-term debt that the great-grandchildren of our great-grandchildren will pay. The country simply cannot afford such fiscal extravagance and irresponsibility.
The current generation will also feel the effects of this spending. Rampant inflation kicks in with a rapid spike in the prices of energy, food, building materials, etc. Government-caused inflation is an insidious and hidden tax that hits everyone except those on fixed incomes, the middle class, and the economically disadvantaged.
The goal of the vaccine lottery is to increase the number of people who get vaccinated. After the first gift, the inoculation rate did not increase and in fact decreased over the holiday weekend following the announcement of the lottery. So, as an incentive, the lottery failed.
Colorado is now opening up and devastated businesses, which represent the savings and dreams of countless small business owners and their employees, are starting to turn around. Unfortunately, many companies did not survive this past year. The lottery is saltier in injuries as the lucky few receive extra handouts, paid for by everyone, including unborn generations. It’s a gimmick that goes to Governor Jared Polis buying your votes with your own money and hiding his own guilt in the economic disaster.
Make no mistake, the government is freezing the economy with overly ambitious mandates and measures that have devastated businesses, jobs and lives. Now that Polis has destroyed the economy, he wants to bribe you with the money of future generations to forget what he did.
These funds should not be printed, should not be borrowed, and should not be spent, especially in such an unnecessary manner. Let’s end the lottery, lift the remaining restrictions and government economic controls, and let people get back to work. It is the best antidote today.
Dr Matthew Wynia is Professor in the Faculties of Medicine and Public Health and Director of the Center for Bioethics and Humanities at the University of Colorado, on the Anschutz Medical Campus. Representative Andres Pico, R-Colorado Springs, represents House District 16 at the Colorado General Assembly.