UCSD study finds vaccine incentives help reduce hesitancy to some extent

Posted at 6:32 PM, Mar 17, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-17 21:32:17-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — A new UC San Diego study reveals whether offering people money helps reduce vaccine hesitancy.

In California, people have received anywhere from $25 to $1 million for getting the shot. UC San Diego's Rady School of Management conducted the study from December 2020 to February 2021.

They surveyed more than 1,500 people on whether incentives ranging from $10 to $500 would motivate them to get vaccinated. The study shows $100 compensation increased vaccine willingness by 4.5 percent and $500 by about 15 percent to 20 percent.

However, Marta Serra-Garcia, an Associate Professor of Economics and Strategy, says low offers like $20 dissuaded people from getting the vaccine and can even be seen as an insult.

"Putting such a low monetary compensation associated with it would make it look like it's a low price tag and perhaps low quality," said Serra-Garcia.

Last May, California launched the 'Vax for the Win' campaign with incentives from $50 gift cards to $1.5 million lotteries.

Serra-Garcia says the study shows $50 offers did little to nudge people distrusting the vaccine. While the lotteries were large amounts, other studies show the probability of winning made them small incentives.

"If you're distrusting or somewhat weary of the vaccine, a small chance at a huge prize may not be the thing that flips you over."

Some states and cities have also begun using monetary incentives to increase children's vaccinations. However, Serra-Garcia believes when it comes to convincing parents to let their children get the shot, education may be the better option.

"Communication, enhancing trust in the vaccine, transparency about the trial results... all of these things that we have been seeing may move the needle more," said Serra-Garcia.

The study also shows pre-scheduled appointments in addition to receiving $100 could also help increase vaccine interest.

The student did not measure actual decisions since it was conducted at a time when a large majority of people did not yet have access to COVID-19 vaccines.