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Beer, Weed, One Million Dollars: States’ Vaccine Incentives

States are announcing incentive programs to encourage residents to get vaccinated against COVID-19. What started as small benefits, free doughnuts and beer has grown into significant prizes, such as five chances to win $1 million.

A woman receiving a vaccination in her arm.
Dr. Kelsey Echols placed a Band-Aid on Roxanne Poplar, 26, of Minneapolis, after administering a COVID-19 vaccine shot at Lake Monster Brewing's shot and a free beer event in St. Paul.
Star Tribune/Carlos Gonzalez, Star Tribune/St
In a recent address, President Joe Biden set a national goal of reaching 70 percent of Americans who have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine by Independence Day. But achieving that lofty goal may be hard. To help encourage those who may be hesitant to get the vaccine, several cities and states have developed incentive programs that give vaccinated residents anything from free doughnuts and beer to free money.

After several months, vaccination rates have begun to slow as supply is now outpacing demand. Those who desperately needed or wanted the coronavirus vaccine have been able to get it, leaving groups that don’t have access to the vaccine or those with vaccine hesitancy.

To help combat the slowdown, companies across the nation have developed vaccine incentive programs to help encourage residents to get their shot. Krispy Kreme has offered free daily doughnuts to those who can show proof of their vaccinations, White Castle will offer a free dessert-on-a-stick to those with vaccine cards until the end of May and, until July 25, Staples and Office Depot will laminate vaccine cards for free to protect them from crumbs and other damage.

But private companies are not the only ones who are trying to encourage people to get the coronavirus vaccine. New Jersey and Connecticut are offering free beer, Maryland and West Virginia will hand out $100 and Ohio just announced that vaccinated residents will be entered into a drawing for five weekly drawings of $1 million.

Despite the costs of these programs, officials believe the increase in immunity is worth it. “Truly, the real waste at this point in the pandemic — when the vaccine is readily available to anyone who wants it — is a lost life to COVID-19,” Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine said.

Despite the incentives, many experts worry that the United States will be unable to stamp out COVID-19 with herd immunity, which could allow the coronavirus to impact Americans for years to come. However, health officials are optimistic that the virus will be manageable in the future, and life will soon return to normal.

Below is a list of just some of the COVID-19 vaccine incentives that can be utilized across the nation.


Super Duper Burgers in San Francisco is giving out free fries to customers with proof of vaccination.


The Denver Department of Public Health and Environment has partnered with Red Rocks Amphitheatre to administer 100 Johnson & Johnson vaccines at select concerts.


The state is offering a free drink with proof of vaccination at participating restaurants.


The state is partnering with a mobile vaccine site at the World Shooting and Recreational Complex May 14 and 15 to provide 100 free targets of trap, skeet or sporting clays for those who receive the COVID-19 vaccine at the site.


The state is offering $100 to state employees who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19.


Detroit is giving out $50 Mastercard debit cards to those who bring other city residents to vaccine sites to get the shot.

The Greenhouse of Walled Lake, a marijuana dispensary in Walled Lake, Mich., is offering a free pre-rolled joint to anyone over the age of 21 with their vaccine card in their “Pot for Shots” promotion.

New Jersey

The state is offering a free beer to those who get their first COVID-19 vaccine dose in the month of May and present their vaccine card to one of several participating breweries.

New York

The American Museum of Natural History in New York City has a free vaccine clinic underneath the Blue Whale exhibit and those who get the shot will receive free admission into the museum.

Nathan’s Famous in Coney Island will offer free hot dogs to visitors who visit the restaurant on the same day that they receive the shot.

Junior’s Restaurant is offering a free mini cheesecake to those who show proof of their COVID-19 vaccine until Memorial Day.


Chagrin Cinemas in Cleveland, Ohio, was offering free popcorn to vaccinated moviegoers throughout April.

Market Garden Brewery in Cleveland is offering beer for just 10 cents to anyone who brings proof of their vaccination. The brewery initially was offering the discount to only the first 2,021 people but has since expanded the deal.

The state is offering five weekly drawings of $1 million to residents who have received at least one dose of the vaccine. The first weekly drawing will be on May 26.


Memphis has created a raffle for all vaccinated adults in Shelby County throughout the month of May; the grand prize is a new car.

West Virginia

The state is offering a $100 savings bond to anyone, ages 16 through 35, who gets vaccinated against the virus.


Krispy Kreme will offer daily free doughnuts to vaccinated residents across the nation.

So Good So You is offering a free juice shot to vaccinated customers through their “Get Your Shot, Get Our Shot Free” promotion.

Staples and Office Depot will laminate vaccine cards for free until July 25.

White Castle will offer a free dessert-on-a-stick for those who have been vaccinated until May 31.


Zoe is the digital editor for Governing.
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