Kansas eying more vaccine incentives; Here’s what you need to know


In this April 7, 2021 photo, a senior receives the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine at the Aaron E. Henry Community Health Service Center, in Clarksdale, Miss. Medicare will require nursing homes to report COVID-19 vaccination rates for residents and staff, the government said Tuesday, in what officials hope will become an incentive to keep giving shots even as the worst ravages of the pandemic ease in facilities across the land.(AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

TOPEKA, Kan. — More vaccine incentives could be coming to Kansas, as the country and state reaches a “plateau” in vaccine rollout.

Dr. Marci Nielsen, the state’s Chief Advisor for Vaccine Distribution, told the Kansas Capitol Bureau on Thursday about current initiatives the state is taking as they aim to get more people vaccinated.

“We think it’s really important for us to get creative and use incentives,” Nielsen said.

Nielsen mentioned the latest incentive is a festival taking place in Great Bend, where Applebee’s, a national restaurant chain, will be offering free meals for people who get vaccinated, or want to learn more about coronavirus vaccines.

A spokesperson for the governor’s office said it’s all part of the state’s “pilot program,” partnering with restaurants and hosting events. Another initiative is testing out discounts for college students who want to get vaccinated, which is also being set up in Great Bend, at Barton Community College.

“What we’re seeing from other states that have done some really innovative things, is that incentives work,” Nielsen said, speaking about a few other states that have provided monetary incentives in exchange for vaccinations.

Ohio was the first to initiate a million-dollar lottery to boost their vaccine numbers, coining the term “Vax-a-million.”

As of Thursday, CDC data shows 50% of Kansas’ 18 and older population has been fully vaccinated. This eclipses the numbers for the state’s overall population that’s been fully vaccinated, which sits at 38.5%.

The state has been exploring options, similar to Ohio’s lottery. A spokesperson for the Kansas Lottery confirmed in an email that an announcement with more details would be released in the coming days.

However, Nielsen said the cash prize may not be as large as other states.

“We want to do a lottery that’s right for Kansas, and the governor has lots of ideas,” she said.

The state will be hosting one of its first vaccine incentive events at the Kansas Speedway on Friday and Saturday, called the “Race to End COVID-19.” People can drive two laps around the track in their own car, if they choose to get vaccinated or tested, and also be entered to win tickets to races.

Nielsen said the state is looking into more community-focused and local incentives, with the goal of educating more people about vaccines, and creating a safer community.

“This is not just good for you and your health but also the health of your community.”

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