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Stimulus checks should be topped off with $300 for Americans who vaccinate against coronavirus, John Delaney argues

Adriana Belmonte
·Senior Editor
·3 min read

As Congress votes on legislation that would include $600 stimulus checks for Americans amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, a former Democratic congressman proposed to add another few hundred dollars on top of that for Americans who vaccinate.

“Imagine if we made that $900 or $1000, and $600 went to everyone, and another $300 or $400 went to when you received the vaccine,” John Delaney, a representative for Maryland's 6th congressional district from 2013 to 2019 and a 2020 presidential candidate, said on Yahoo Finance Live (video above). “Ideas like that should be put in the mix because it takes a stimulus check, which is important, and it also creates an incentive for people to get vaccinated, which is incredibly important.”

WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 18: Brian Monahan, the Attending Physician of the United States Congress, gives a medical card to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) in the U.S. Capitol Building on December 18, 2020 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Anna Moneymaker-Pool/Getty Images)
U.S. Congress Attending Physician Brian Monahan gives a medical card to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) after her vaccination against coronavirus on December 18, 2020 in Washington, DC. (Photo: Anna Moneymaker-Pool/Getty Images)

The idea, which Delaney put forward in several forms, echoed suggestions from some economists and former presidential candidate Andrew Yang.

“The data or the polling suggests that not enough Americans are focused on getting the vaccine in the short term,” Delaney added, referring to polling that roughly 60% of Americans would vaccinate against coronavirus when possible. “So I think if we could create an incentive to get instead of say 50% of the country vaccinated, get 75% of the country vaccinated sooner, that would end this tragedy of COVID and allow us to get back to normal faster.”

According to Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), at least 75-85% of the country needs to be vaccinated to achieve herd immunity.

U.S. 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Representative John Delaney (D-MD) speaks at the 2019 National Action Network National Convention in New York, U.S., April 4, 2019.  REUTERS/Lucas Jackson
U.S. 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Representative John Delaney (D-MD) speaks at the 2019 National Action Network National Convention in New York, U.S., April 4, 2019. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

‘I don’t think there’s ethical considerations’

A recent op-ed in The New York Times suggested that paying people to get vaccinated could backfire if it made some Americans think that the vaccine is “bad” on its own.

“For those unsure about being vaccinated, ... paying will most likely send the message that this is something you would not want to do without compensation,” economics and psychology professor George Loewenstein and business professor Cynthia Cryder argued.

Delaney noted that other countries have tried similar programs: In rural India, immunization camps provided small incentives (e.g. food) to immunize their children. As a result, the percentage of children ages 1-3 fully immunized increased from 6% to 39%.

“If we thought the vaccine wasn't safe, we shouldn't approve it,” he said. “So by definition, we're saying the vaccine is safe because we're approving it. Therefore, creating an incentive for someone to take something that is safe that we believe is good for them to take, I don't think there's ethical considerations.”

Adriana Belmonte is a reporter and editor covering politics and health care policy for Yahoo Finance. You can follow her on Twitter @adrianambells.

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