MINOT, N.D. — Back in early May I wrote about the slowing pace of COVID-19 vaccinations in North Dakota.
At the time the one-dose coverage rate for the vaccine — which is the percentage of people who have had at least one shot — was at 46.7%, just short of half.
Today, a month and a half later, we finally crossed the halfway mark. As of June 15, the one-dose rate stands at 50.1%, according to the state Department of Health's online dashboard.
Why did it take North Dakota so long to hit the halfway mark?
As I noted in May, the pace of vaccinations has seen a precipitous slowdown.
In March it the state averaged 6,013 doses per day.
In April that average was 3,980 per day.
By May we were down to 1,492 per day, and so far in June, the rate is down to just 1,104 per day.
That's still progress!
But we can do better.
We should be doing better.
The best way to protect our society from COVID-19 and its variants is vaccination. How do we persuade people who are still hesitant?
In an editorial, the Grand Forks Herald has called for a state-backed incentive program.
"Minnesota residents who haven’t yet had a COVID-19 vaccination can sign up for 'Your Shot to Summer,' an incentive program that’s giving away all sorts of state perks, such as fishing licenses, state park entrance fees and tickets to amusement parks," the paper notes, which is a nice idea. Not only does it promote vaccination, but it also encourages people to get out and see the state's amenities, which should help with post-pandemic economic recovery.
Ohio is running a lottery. If you're vaccinated you're entered to win five chances at a $1 million prize. Kids get a chance at a full scholarship to one of the state's universities.
North Dakota, meanwhile, isn't doing anything.
We wouldn't even have to spend tax dollars on it.
The state should partner with businesses around the state to create incentives for those who choose to get vaccinated. I'm certain there are plenty of stores, restaurants, bars, theaters, museums, camping grounds, etc., that would be happy to provide discounts and vouchers for the vaccinated.
Again, this is a two-birds-one-stone situation. You promote vaccinations, and you give our state's businesses a chance to promote themselves too.
How's that for a win-win?
Adam Willis reports that our state has no plans for this sort of incentive program, and that's too bad, but it's not too late to create something, not only for those who have already been vaccinated but for those who can still be persuaded to get a shot.
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Rob Port, founder of SayAnythingBlog.com, is a Forum Communications commentator. Reach him on Twitter at @robport or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.