Vermont offers ice cream coupons at vaccination clinics

  • Phoebe White, 21, received the Covid-19 vaccine at a walk-in clinic inside North Beach Park in Burlington on May 20, 2021. Photo by Mike Dougherty/VTDigger VtDigger — Mike Dougherty

Published: 5/20/2021 11:03:57 PM
Modified: 5/20/2021 11:03:59 PM

MONTPELIER — Vermont is offering 10,000 creemee coupons to people who attend emergency medical services vaccination clinics, beginning May 21.

The Agency of Agriculture announced Thursday that 24 creemee vendors are participating in the program, called “creemee for a shot,” providing a coupon for the iconic soft-serve ice cream treat to people who get a dose of the vaccine.

The offer for a free small creemee applies on a first-come, first-served basis to 10,000 Vermonters who attend EMS clinics held across the state in celebration of EMS Week through May 23.

Since the EMS clinics provide only the Johnson & Johnson shot, the offer will be available only to people 18 and older.

Other states have offered many different incentives and rewards for vaccinations. New York recently announced a lottery ticket giveaway. In New Jersey, participating breweries offer free beer to anyone with proof of vaccination.

Ohio made headlines by offering five $1 million jackpot lotteries for adults and five full-ride, four-year university scholarships for students.

As of May 20, 75% of Vermonters 12 and older had received at least one dose of the vaccine. Vaccination appointments and a list of walk-in clinics are available on the Department of Health website.

Health Commissioner Mark Levine promised on May 4 that the creemee coupon deal was in the works. At the time, Gov. Phil Scott said the coupon was a “reward,” not an “incentive.”

“Because, I mean, everybody wants a creemee, especially on a hot spring or summer day, but the reality is I don’t think that’s going to make the difference in someone’s decision,” Scott said. “But at the same time, why shouldn’t they get rewarded if they happen to be there?”

However, a set of researchers from the University of Vermont found that incentives can be helpful in encouraging people to get the jab. A team of three researchers concluded that “modest financial incentives resulted in a sevenfold increase in adherence compared to no incentives.”

A separate ongoing survey study conducted by the University of California, Los Angeles Covid-19 Health and Politics Project also suggests cash incentives — and the promise of being allowed to let up on pandemic precautions, such as wearing masks — may be effective motivators.

On Thursday, Vermont lifted the residency requirement for people eligible to get COVID-19 vaccines in the state. Now non-residents ages 12 and older can get vaccinated.

Clinics, including for walk-ins, are listed on the Vermont Health Department website.

They include clinics being held by Emergency Medical Services workers this weekend, as well as at schools and for restaurant, hospitality and tourism workers.

Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.

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