The COVID-19 vaccine has recently become widely available in the US and many other countries. A significant percentage of the population has received at least one dose in the US, and most of the elderly and vulnerable have been fully vaccinated. This is good news, but in the past few weeks the vaccination rate has slowed, prompting some creative ways to increase participation.
Some states and companies have initiated incentives to motivate people to get the vaccine. New York has offered a lottery ticket with a potential payout of $5 million to those who get immunized. That’s a pretty inviting incentive! Other perks offered in some places include basketball tickets or day passes to entertainment venues. And I’ve also heard of “a shot for a shot” that gives bar patrons a free shot of spirits in exchange for their vaccination shot. Cheers!
The most amusing perk I’ve heard of is the offer from nine of the more prominent internet dating sites that grants special badges or access to increased levels of exposure for their dating profile that would normally cost extra, with proof of immunization. Associating advantages on a social media platform with efforts to improve a public health crisis is brilliant, and a clever use of technology.
I haven’t received any of the extra perks mentioned above, but I did get my first dose of the Pfizer vaccine yesterday. Vaccination in Panama for the general public (age 60 or older) began in Panama City a couple of months ago, since they had the highest rate of infections and deaths. The effort was rolled out in other areas, depending on their infection rates, and this week it was our province’s turn. They will be in Boquete for four days.
I had signed up online to receive the vaccine a couple of months ago, and received a notice of my appointment date and time this week, to be administered at a school not far from my house. When I arrived yesterday afternoon, there was no line at all, and there were plenty of people there to get me registered and usher me to the different rooms to get the shot and remain in a waiting room for 15 minutes to ensure there were no adverse effects from the injection.
Volunteers from the Red Cross were on site to help with the flow of recipients, and after getting the shot, the guy who was in charge of the vaccination room told me to “follow the red boy” – the young man in a Red Cross t-shirt – to the waiting room. I had a giggle about that!
I was so impressed with the level of organization and assistance at the vaccination location, and with the use of technology to inform us about upcoming availability and appointments. By the time I arrived at home afterwards, I had an e-mail confirming my first dose and saying I would be notified within the next 30 days of the date and time I’m scheduled to receive my second dose.
Congratulations, Panama – you’re doing it right!