HEALTH

Gov. Cox looking at cash incentives being offered to boost COVID-19 vaccinations

May 27, 2021, 9:06 PM
(Utah Governor Spencer Cox speaking at a COVID-19 briefing May 27, 2021.  Photo, KSL.com)...
(Utah Governor Spencer Cox speaking at a COVID-19 briefing May 27, 2021. Photo, KSL.com)
(Utah Governor Spencer Cox speaking at a COVID-19 briefing May 27, 2021. Photo, KSL.com)

SALT LAKE CITY – Health officials in states like Ohio and California hope the lure of millions of dollars will convince more people to get the COVID-19 vaccine. Could Governor Spencer Cox bring similar incentives to Utah? He said state leaders are considering it, but it might not be necessary.

Health officials say Utah’s vaccination rollout is still having a significant impact on the spread of COVID-19. The state’s rolling seven-day average of new cases took a dramatic drop over the last week, and over 1.47 million Utahns have been at least partially vaccinated. Officials reported over 56 percent of all eligible Utahns have received at least one dose of the vaccine, while more than 46 percent are fully vaccinated.

So, cash incentive programs might not be needed in Utah.  Still, Governor Cox says he’s looking at what’s happening in states that are offering these prizes.

“It would be really great if we didn’t need any incentives, at all.  Hopefully, not dying is a great incentive,” he said.

In California, lawmakers are offering ten $1.5 million prizes to residents who get vaccinated, which is part of their $116.5 million program to incentivize Californians. In Ohio, they’ve already announced their first million-dollar winner. However, it’s still too soon to know how effective these programs will be in boosting vaccinations. 

Even if they are effective, Utah’s lawmakers may not be interested in implementing this kind of program.

Cox said, “We’re very fiscally conservative in this state, as we should be.  We’re cautious with how we spend dollars that are coming to us.  So, if it’s not necessary, we shouldn’t expend them.”

The governor said the state is in no hurry to create new cash incentives to increase vaccination.

“If an incentive works now, it will probably work a month from now, as well,” Cox says.  “We’re not going to do it unless it’s absolutely necessary,” Cox said.

Nothing is being proposed in Utah, yet, and Cox believes they made a deal with lawmakers to consult them before any program is announced. The legislature has control of the budget and would control any kind of potential funding.

“We would come back to them as we watched what happens with vaccines over the next several weeks,” he said.

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Gov. Cox looking at cash incentives being offered to boost COVID-19 vaccinations