In Washington state, a vaccine can now get you some pre-rolled bud.
The state’s Liquor and Cannabis Board announced on Monday that in an effort to support COVID-19 vaccinations, it will temporarily allow state-licensed cannabis retailers to give a free joint to adults who get their first or second dose at a vaccine clinic at one of the retail locations.
This is one of the latest incentives popping up across the country to push Americans to get their shots. “Joint for Jabs” and similar campaigns have been around for months, but this is the first time a state is promoting the program.
Health experts have repeatedly said vaccine demand would wane, and each new shot in an arm would be harder to achieve either because of hesitancy, access or logistical challenges for the population left unvaccinated.
“Since the start of the pandemic itself, we’ve always had about a quarter of the population that’s been like, ‘Uh, I really don’t know,’” said Rupali Limaye, a behavioral and social scientist that studies vaccine hesitancy at the John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. “It makes sense we’re at this place where we’re having to persuade people to get the vaccine.”
Limaye finds it “pretty fascinating” to see how creative states can get with their incentives, especially as health officials and local leaders figure out how to tailor messaging and incentives around different segments of the population.
Officials in New Jersey and Washington DC, for example, are targeting younger populations with campaigns offering free beer for shots.
Washington Governor Jay Inslee (D) also recently announced a suite of other vaccine incentives including lottery prizes, sports tickets, and game systems in an attempt to encourage unvaccinated residents.
“For some people, it may be enough to say, ‘You get a donut,’” Limaye said. “For others, they may need some more, like a college scholarship. To me, it matches the general principles of how we should focus on behavioral science, by meeting people where they are.”
In recent days, the nation’s daily average doses have dropped to under a million. This is more than two-thirds from a mid-April peak of more than 3.3 million daily average doses. In Washington, 58 percent of the state’s population has received at least one dose, and 49 percent of the population is fully vaccinated.
The state’s “Joints for Jabs” promotion is running June 7-12. In announcing the campaign, several cannabis retailers have requested to be involved in the effort.