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FROSTMAN COLUMN: Incentives won't sway those who fight for vaccine choice
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FROSTMAN COLUMN: Incentives won't sway those who fight for vaccine choice

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‘Step right up, folks! No waitin’ in line! C’mon in and get your jab. A hundred bucks for the first player! Who’s gonna play?”

Picture Gov. Tony Evers wearing a carnival barker hat, sounding like the guy at the county fair trying to get you to ring the bell. He’s not offering a big stuffed teddy bear, but rather cold, hard cash.

Gov. Evers announced an incentive program for unvaccinated folks to come in and get poked. An Aug. 24, Journal Sentinel story shared, “a new program that would distribute through Labor Day $100 Visa gift cards to anyone in the state who gets their first shot of a vaccine from a Wisconsin provider between Aug. 20 and Sept. 6.” The story further explained, “the effort is being funded by the federal American Rescue Plan Act dollars.” Free government money. Oh, wait.

This is a step up from the free cream puff offered at the Wisconsin State Fair mentioned in the same story, where about 600 people got their shot. We’ll see how many get on board, now that we’ve gone from a cream puff to a crisp picture of Ben Franklin. Well, actually a debit card.

Vaccine incentives are all the rage. According to recent data from the National Governor’s Association, about half the states have some sort of incentive. In Alabama, you can drive your car for two laps on the Talladega Superspeedway, and a host of states has a range of lottery-type prizes. Get a shot; take a shot at winning some valuable prizes.

Many businesses are also sweetening the pot for those who get vaccinated, or when reaching a certain level of participation. Most stories don’t hit the news, but you hear dozens of anecdotal stories and postings about incentives. Whether you have been vaccinated, choose to take some bucks from Bucky, or forgo the vaccine is totally your choice, and I respect your decision.

We’ve also seen a coordinated rush by big hospital groups across the state to push vaccine mandates on their workers. Get the jab, or lose your job. The same folks who were lauded as heroes for their courageous work throughout these challenging times now face ultimatums.

It’s amazing to see the uprising of health care workers in response to employer-required jabs. You won’t see much media coverage as it doesn’t fit the proper narrative, but thousands of health care workers are staging events outside hospitals and other venues in support of their own medical freedom.

I attended a “medical freedom” rally at the Capitol Aug. 10, organized by Wisconsin Health Care Employees for Medical Freedom, which was given a brief moment of coverage by WKOW-TV 27 that day. Little attention in coverage was paid to the message of choice the speakers were trying to convey, and WKOW quickly shifted to the pro-vaccine mantra.

It was compelling that many in attendance were health care workers often fully immersed in the depths of treating COVID patients. They typically possess an abundance of medical and scientific training, and are steeled in their resolve they won’t abide a vaccine mandate. Doesn’t it give those pushing the mandates reason for pause?

Thousands of health care workers are opposed to getting this shot. They may question the lack of package inserts accompanying the vaccine doses, upon which pharmacists are very reliant, the ignoring of Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System data, or concerns over as-yet unknown long-term side effects. Their fundamental cry is for control over their own medical decisions.

These workers are not “anti-vaccine.” They, and millions more, upon research, review, and with full acuity simply support vaccine choice. Individuals have the ability to discern, in concert with medical resources on which we rely to make medical decisions.

With about half the state’s population fully vaccinated, and vaccination rates stalling, it’s becoming increasingly clear flashy incentives aren’t going to move the needle—pun intended—very much. I would suspect the recent FDA approval of the Pfizer shot won’t give vaccine rates much of a boost. Most have already made their decisions, and no government dollars will sway their choice.

Make the decision best for you, your family and others, in coordination with your health care professionals. Only a couple days left to get your c-note from the Guv, or hold out for a better offer. The choice is yours.

Scott Frostman lives in Baraboo, and has roots throughout Wisconsin. Opinions herein are exclusively his own. He believes anyone can make a difference and can be reached at scfrostman@gmail.com.

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