• A former congressman is floating the idea to add a few hundred dollars to peoples’ new stimulus check if they get themselves vaccinated for COVID-19, as a way of encouraging as many people as possible to receive the jabs that so far have been authorized from drugmakers Pfizer and Moderna.
  • Former congressman John Delaney has suggested adding a few hundred dollars extra to peoples’ new stimulus check to compensate them for getting the COVID-19 vaccine.
  • So far, more than 1.1 million people in the US have gotten the COVID-19 vaccine, according to Bloomberg’s vaccine tracker.

Former congressman (and 2020 Democratic presidential candidate) John Delaney has floated this idea before. Essentially, he thinks we ought to pay people as a way to incentivize as many people as possible to get themselves vaccinated against COVID-19, and in the past, he’s suggested the issuance of a new stimulus check for as much as $1,500 as one way to do that.

Now, obviously, nobody seems poised to get a new stimulus check that big anytime soon. As of the time of this writing, Congress is bickering over whether and how to accede to President Trump’s demand that the $600 stimulus check amount that emerged from the COVID-19 relief bill Congress passed earlier this week be hiked to $2,000 per person. Undaunted, though, Delaney is back with a new twist on his original idea — why not add a few hundred dollars more, say $300 or $400, to the stimulus check amounts to entice people to get vaccinated?

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“Ideas like that should be put in the mix,” Delaney told Yahoo Finance Live, “because it takes a stimulus check, which is important, and it also creates an incentive for people to get vaccinated, which is incredibly important.”

He’s not the first person to put this idea forward, of paying people to get the COVID vaccine. We noted at the end of November, for example, that other supporters of this idea have included another former 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, Andrew Yang, as well as N. Gregory Mankiw, who was a top economic advisor to President George W. Bush. And it’s not hard to deny that there’s a good reason to support this idea.

The latest data from Johns Hopkins University shows that more than 18.4 million coronavirus cases in the US have been reported this year, along with more than 326,000 deaths. We desperately need as many people as possible, as quickly as possible, to be vaccinated against the coronavirus, which will remove them from the chain of transmission and make it harder for the vaccine to infect new people — eventually stopping that process in its tracks.

Another selling point for this idea is that it solves many peoples’ complaint that the new stimulus checks are too small and won’t make much of a difference in their lives. However, it’s also worth taking into account the counterpoint to this idea — that paying people to do something they might not otherwise have intended to do can actually undermine the activity you’re trying to incentivize.

Writing in The Conversation, for example, two law professors (Ana Santos Rutschman, an assistant professor of law at Saint Louis University, and Robert Gatter, a professor of law at Saint Louis University) argue that paying people to get the COVID-19 vaccine might actually confirm many peoples’ suspicions about the vaccine. As if to say, see, the fact that you need to pay me to take this suggests you are aware I won’t take it otherwise — or that you know something ominous I don’t. That such a step needs to be taken, offering money, might lead some people to conclude there’s something to hide relative to the vaccine.

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Andy is a reporter in Memphis who also contributes to outlets like Fast Company and The Guardian. When he’s not writing about technology, he can be found hunched protectively over his burgeoning collection of vinyl, as well as nursing his Whovianism and bingeing on a variety of TV shows you probably don’t like.