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United Holds Drawings For Free Flights For Those Who Get The Shot

A United Airlines airplane takes off over a plane on the runway at San Francisco International Airport. The company is offering vaccinated customers the chance to win free flights for a year.
Image credit: Jeff Chiu


Krispy Kreme is giving away a complimentary glazed doughnut to anyone who flashes their vaccine card. Maine is furnishing L.L.Bean gift certificates and free fishing and hunting licenses to residents who get the shot.

Now, United Airlines has become the latest entity to offer an incentive to get more of its customers inoculated against the coronavirus: the chance to win free flights for a year.

Companies and local governments have been rolling out inducements to the as-yet-unvaccinated in an effort to inoculate more people against the novel coronavirus, which has killed more than 587,000 in the U.S. alone.

The offers are aimed at overcoming vaccine hesitancy and have become more common in recent weeks, as vaccine interest has slowed nationwide. A CNN poll in April found that 26% of Americans said they would not get the coronavirus vaccine.

To enter United’s contest, travelers who are part of the airline’s MileagePlus program must enter a photo of their vaccine card online by June 22. United will choose five winners to receive a year of free flights – 26 round-trip tickets – in any class for themselves and one traveling companion. Another 30 flyers will be chosen to win one round-trip flight for two.

“With more dream destinations reopening for travel (ciao, Roma!), your COVID-19 vaccine is your ticket to the world,” the United promotion reads.

When it comes to convincing people to get vaccinated, there is evidence that the carrot works better than the stick.

Roughly a third of respondents in a recent survey by the U.C.L.A. Covid-19 Health and Politics Project said a monetary incentive would make them more likely to get the shot.

In Ohio, interest in the vaccine appears to have exploded this month after state officials created the “Ohio Vax-A-Million” sweepstakes, a $1 million lottery open to state residents who’ve received at least one shot of a COVID-19 vaccine. The state Department of Health reported a 28% increase in vaccinations the weekend after the drawing was announced.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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