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Minnesota could begin offering incentives to get vaccinated, Walz says

Other states have already began offering incentives including cash prizes, scholarships and hunting and fishing licenses.

Following the example of other states, Minnesota could begin offering incentives to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, Gov. Tim Walz said.

At a Wednesday press conference at the state’s vaccination site at the Mall of America, Walz said he is considering incentives to motivate more Minnesotans to get vaccinated. He said he expects his team to put together a list of possible incentives to review soon. 

“I don’t know if there’s a lot of data and research on it, but I think the people in business and human psychology would tell you if there’s a chance you can get something free, it might encourage you to do it,” Walz said.

After an initial surge in vaccinations after all adults became eligible in late March, the vaccination rate has slowed in recent weeks, with efforts turning to reaching those reluctant to get vaccinated, or with limited access or mobility.

Those aged 12-15 can now get the Pfizer vaccine too, after the shots were given emergency approval by the FDA and CDC last week.

Ohio is looking to encourage residents to get vaccinated by offering five $1 million prizes for a vaccination with its “Vax-A-Million” program. Ohio residents under the age of 18 can enter to win a full-ride scholarship to in-state public institutions.

Early reports suggest it has led to a significant increase in vaccinations.

In Maine, residents who have been vaccinated are eligible to receive incentives like a hunting license, fishing license, parks pass or L.L. Bean gift cards.

Walz said he is open to offering hunting or fishing licenses or parks passes. While working with private companies to offer incentives could require legal considerations, it could prove effective, he said.

“A gift card to go shopping after you get done. It’s easier to bring your teen down here if you can go right into the mall and do something,” Walz said.

According to a Wednesday update from the Minnesota Department of Health, 62% of Minnesotans aged 16-plus have received at least one shot, while around 49% of the state's total population has had at least one shot. 

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