Biden Offers Americans $100 to Get Vaxxed—JAMA Calls It ‘Coercive’

Joe Biden on Thursday called for newly vaccinated Americans to receive $100 payments, but a peer-reviewed medical journal publication from earlier this year disagrees with the “problematicapproach.

QUICK FACTS:
  • Biden incentivized U.S. citizens to receive Covid-19 mRNA vaccine by calling for state and local governments to make $100 payments to every newly vaccinated American, according to The Wall Street Journal (WSJ).
  • The Treasury Department said the payments are intended to serve “as an extra incentive to boost vaccination rates.”
  • “They can be funded by tapping a $350 billion pot of money for state and local governments that was included in the stimulus package passed earlier this year,” according to WSJ.
  • But a January 2021 publication by the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA)—a peer-reviewed medical journal published by the American Medical Association—argues that cash incentives for vaccinations can be perceived as “coercive.”
“BRIBING” AMERICANS:
  • USA Today opinion columnist Christian Schneider is pro-vaccine, yet still argues that “bribing Americans to get the COVID vaccine doesn’t solve our real problem.”
  • While Schneider believes the “real problem” is vaccine hesitancy, he nevertheless reveals that the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) has shown that “offering bribes to get the vaccine might actually dissuade people from getting it.”
  • This is because “they will assume something is wrong if citizens need to be paid to have it injected into their bodies.”
  • “Think about it,” says Schneider, “if you were walking down the street and someone handed you a drink and said, ‘I’ll give you $1,000 to drink this,’ you would immediately suspect it was surreptitiously seasoned with the sweat from a hobo’s mustache.”
WHY JAMA REJECTS PAYING CASH INCENTIVES FOR VACCINATIONS:
  • Even though the JAMA publication cited by Schneider says that people “have a moral duty to be vaccinated,” it nevertheless characterizes “paying cash incentives for COVID-19 vaccination” as “morally suspect, likely unnecessary, and may be counterproductive.”
  • “[P]ayment-for-vaccination proposals are not only unnecessary, but problematic,” the publication emphasizes.
  • The publication also says “paying a substantial sum as an incentive to overcome vaccine hesitancy and to promote vaccine uptake is not a prudent investment” because “paying people to get vaccinated would come with high costs, possibly requiring many billions of dollars; the money would be more efficiently spent addressing the pandemic in other ways.”
  • The publication maintains that offering monetary incentives for vaccination can be seen as “coercive.”
  • “[T]here is a genuine ethical concern about the influence of such an incentive on decision-making,” says the publication.
  • “As individuals and families struggle, some people might feel they must accept a vaccine in order to, for example, purchase food or pay rent. They might feel they have no choice but to be vaccinated for cash.”
  • “It is deeply problematic that the government would offer cash incentives to promote vaccination when it has failed, in numerous instances throughout this pandemic, to offer money or other supports needed to ensure that the basic needs of many people are being met.”
  • The publication argues that “cash incentives might reasonably be expected to heighten…apprehensions or raise new ones, as offers of payment are often understood to signal that a behavior is undesirable or risky.”
  • “In a climate characterized by widespread distrust of government and propensity to endorse conspiracy theories,” it goes on to say, “those who are already COVID-19 vaccine hesitant might perceive that the government would not be willing to pay people to get vaccinated if the available vaccines were truly safe and effective. Incentive payments might also stoke new fears and, perversely, increase resistance to vaccination.”

Jon Fleetwood is Managing Editor for American Faith.