Massachusetts’ Million-Dollar Jab [PHIL-OSOPHY]
Little did I know, as I sat quietly after receiving my two Moderna shots at the Greater New Bedford Community Health Center, that my vaccine card could make me a millionaire.
As Gov. Charlie Baker just announced some of the details of the VaxMillions Giveaway, with registration beginning July 1, I'm asking myself, will the VaxMillions Giveaway be successful in alluring unvaccinated Massachusetts residents to get the shot, or will it take a buzz session with Merlin the Magician to get the numbers to levitate higher?
Taking a look at what other states are doing, I broke up when New York Mayor Bill de Blasio tried to market the vaccine by offering burgers and fries from Shake Shack, which he ate on camera in a cringeworthy moment while trying to keep a serious expression on his face. Without a ketchup packet in sight, he said, "And it's never too early in the morning to eat a hamburger." Popeye's friend Wimpy must be in rapture!
If you recall, the first incentives were modest, to say the least: doughnuts, hunting licenses, baseball tickets, beer and whiskey. Then the Biden Administration updated its guidance for how states can spend the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package that passed in March.
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine was one of the first to up the ante, offering $1 million to five adults, provided they are vaccinated. DeWine called it "our ticket out of this pandemic." But former Ohio U.S. Rep. Jim Renacci called it "ridiculous" and said the money could be better spent helping residents and small businesses or fixing the unemployment system. An Ohio State University professor emeritus, Herb Asher, responded, "It's a gimmick, but it's a good gimmick."
A Harvard immunologist said current vaccines appear to be effective enough to end the pandemic. That would be welcoming news for cities like New Bedford, where the numbers of vaccinated people are below sea level.
I've been getting a hodgepodge of listener wisecracks, as the Commonwealth is just weeks away from the first of the weekly drawings that will begin on July 26. But take note, to be eligible, Massachusetts residents must be fully vaccinated at sites within the state by specific dates prior to each drawing, and that means receiving both doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, or one dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
It will be newsworthy to see what happens, but just remember what Gov. Baker said, "If you're not vaccinated, you can't play."
Phil Paleologos is the host of The Phil Paleologos Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @PhilPaleologos. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.