At the time of this writing, Congress had still not agreed to a badly needed COVID-19 relief bill – and while one is seemingly increasingly becoming more possible by the day, all indications are that it will be a “skinny” bill and not distribute the type of aid that the CARES Act did when it was passed in the early days of the pandemic last spring. In other words, it likely won’t distribute stimulus checks to the millions of Americans that were privy to receiving them months ago.
As a result of the activity – or lack of activity if you look at it that way – in Congress, it’s leading many to wonder if it would be wise to tie in the next stimulus check to getting the forthcoming COVID-19 vaccine in an effort to immunize more Americans and reach that magic 70-75 percent herd immunity benchmark that so many epidemiologists have targeted.
While scientific polls indicate that an increasing number of Americans plan to get the vaccine once it’s available to the general public, there is still a fair amount of resistance to vaccinations in general over a newfound distrust in science or concern over how new the vaccine is. Paying people to receive the vaccine would essentially incentivize Americans to help put an end to the pandemic.
Perhaps the most notable backer behind this proposal is former Maryland Congressman John Delaney, who wants to reward Americans with $1,500 to receive the vaccine. In a recent interview with CNBC, he said that his main motivation behind promoting this concept is very simple: It puts COVID-19 in the rearview mirror faster and allows all Americans to get back to their lives. When the vaccines become available to the general public, it’s worth noting that it will be administered free of charge to Americans who want to receive it. But even a free vaccine may not be enough for many Americans due to the reasons that we mentioned above.
Specifically, Delaney’s plan is to present those who have been vaccinated with ID numbers following immunization, which they can then plug into a website along with their social security number to register to receive their stimulus checks. Delaney noted that paying people to get immunized isn’t unlike how rewards are offered in other countries. However, if Americans were to take the vaccine under this proposal, it would cost the government some $380 billion. It’s a lot of money, but the benefits could be worth it. One, immunization will help end the pandemic and also help end other forms of relief that the government is providing or considering. And two, you’re giving Americans money to infuse into a recovering economy.
Challenges are certainly there, but it begs the question: If you’re on the fence or in the “no vaccine” camp, would a $1,500 check help change your mind?