Cheers to Shaunna O'Connell, the popular mayor of Taunton, for trying to convince her fellow Tauntonians to get vax up. Participation in the vaccination program in some SouthCoast communities is far below the state participation rate.

Some elected officials are doing their best to encourage residents to take a poke in the arm by offering bribes – er, I mean, incentives. Even Governor Charlie Baker created a lottery game and is giving away millions of dollars to get folks to roll up their sleeves. A million bucks beat the Dunkin' and Market Basket gift cards offered here in New Bedford by Mayor Jon Mitchell. But at least with Mitchell, everyone wins a prize for taking a jab. With Baker, there is only a handful of winners.

Not to be outdone, Mayor O'Connell is in on the giveaway wagon, too. O'Connell has landed Red Sox tickets as an incentive to get residents vaccinated. She announced on her Facebook page that anyone who gets vaccinated on the VaxBus at Taunton High School between August 24-26 will be registered to win the tickets to see Boston play the Minnesota Twins at Fenway Park.

O'Connell said "10 lucky winners" will be selected by raffle on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday of next week. Additional details are on the City of Taunton website.

Is the prospect of winning free tickets to see the Red Sox incentive enough for you to be vaccinated? As of Thursday, the Red Sox were in third place in the American League East, 6.5 games back and a full game behind the New York Yankees. Ughh! The only consolation is that the Twins, at 54-67, are 16.5 games back in the AL Central Division. Boston should have a field day against the Twins, but you never know.

All kidding aside, if you are thinking about receiving a COVID vaccine, make sure it is for the right reasons and not because you are being coerced or bribed into doing so. I got vaccinated because it seemed like the smart thing for me to do. Would free Red Sox tickets have helped me to reach that decision? Not likely, unless it was 2004 again.

Barry Richard is the host of The Barry Richard Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from noon to 3 p.m. Contact him at barry@wbsm.com and follow him on Twitter @BarryJRichard58. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

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