Juneau doctors’ group offers chance at cash prize with vaccination

Capital City Fire/Rescue career staff assemble for a pop-up clinic for COVID-19 vaccinations at the downtown fire station in Juneau on Dec. 17, 2020.
Capital City Fire/Rescue career staff assemble for a pop-up clinic for COVID-19 vaccinations at the downtown fire station in Juneau on Dec. 17, 2020. The vials of vaccine must be diluted with saline before injection. (Jeremy Hsieh/KTOO)

If you’re in Juneau and undecided about getting vaccinated against COVID-19, there’s now a cash incentive to get the jab.

“It’ll be interesting to see what people say,” Dr. Lindy Jones said with a chuckle. “It’s a little novel approach, but what the heck?”

Jones works in the emergency room at Bartlett Regional Hospital and is part-owner of Juneau Emergency Medical Associates. The professional corporation recently put up $5,250 in prize money for cash drawings among certain vaccine recipients.

Each day this week — and again on April 17 — a $500 and $250 winner will be drawn from people getting their first doses at the city’s vaccination clinics. At the end of April, two more pairs of winners will be drawn from this month’s clinics at Ron’s Apothecary Shoppe and the pharmacy at Fred Meyer.

Dozens of slots remain available at the city’s vaccine clinics this week. As of Monday, city officials estimate nearly 11,000 eligible people in Juneau have not received any vaccine doses.

Jones said his group wants to try to nudge people into getting vaccinated if they’re on the fence.

“Some people would say, well, we’re coercing people,” he said. “But you know, I think we all strongly feel that the way out of this pandemic and the way for Juneau to move forward as a community is to get people vaccinated. So, whatever we can do.”

Using cash to encourage vaccinations is controversial. It could help communities reach herd immunity faster. Some experts think it could backfire and sharpen suspicions about the vaccines, though clinical trials and real-world study have shown they are safe and effective.

Some businesses are giving their workers extra pay to get vaccinated. Some are requiring it as a condition of employment. Others are offering freebies to customers who are vaccinated.