COVID-19 Vaccinations: Monetary Incentives Can Move the Needle


According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, fewer than half of Americans have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 as of June 30, 2021. Many of our clients and partners ranging from businesses to government agencies have asked us about how incentives can encourage those who have not yet received the COVID vaccine to do so.

To understand how incentives can impact the remaining unvaccinated population, we conducted research of more than 3,000 Americans. Respondents were asked about why they are hesitant to receive the vaccine, whether incentives would encourage them to get the COVID-19 vaccine or finish the vaccination process and which incentives they would find most meaningful.

Our top takeaways? 66% of respondents who have not yet received the COVID-19 vaccine would accept money from their employer or the government for getting the vaccine. Of those respondents who would accept a monetary incentive, 44% would accept $100 or less.

Here are other noteworthy findings:

  • Obstacles are clearly defined. The top reasons respondents haven’t received the vaccine or are hesitant to do so are: because the vaccine is not yet fully FDA-approved, they are fearful of the side effects, they’re waiting to see how other people react to the vaccine, and they’re not sure whether the vaccine is necessary.
  • People are still open to getting the vaccine. 52% of respondents who have not started or completed the COVID-19 vaccine process are open to getting the vaccination or completing the vaccination process if given the right incentive by the government; 53% would do the same if given the right incentive by their employer.
  • Money can move the needle. Among respondents who have who have not started or completed the COVID-19 vaccine process, 55% reported monetary incentives (like a gift or prepaid card) are their top incentive choice. Monetary rewards beat out PTO, health insurance discounts, entry into sweepstakes, merchandise, free food and drink, and other options.
  • Prepaid and gift cards are popular incentives. More than a quarter of respondents who have not yet started or completed the COVID-19 vaccination process would prefer to receive a monetary award in the form of a gift or prepaid card (19% would prefer physical, 8% prefer digital).

“There’s an ongoing discussion among U.S. businesses and government agencies about how they can move the needle and encourage COVID-19 vaccinations,” said Theresa McEndree, global head of marketing at Blackhawk Network. “Successfully motivating people to take desired actions is largely dependent on whether they’re receiving incentives and rewards they find most valuable. In fact, according to our research, more than half of those surveyed who have yet to be vaccinated would be open to getting the vaccine if they received the right incentive. Our research found that a modest monetary incentive valued at $100 or less is the preferred reward among options such as PTO, food and drinks, merchandise and sweepstakes entries. Thanks to solutions like prepaid or gift cards, dispensing these rewards can be a quick and relatively inexpensive process that leads to powerful ROI.”


1 The “COVID-19 Vaccine Incentives June 2021” report is based on the combined findings of two internet-based surveys conducted by Survey Monkey on behalf of Blackhawk Network between June 25–28, 2021. The sample size included 3,138 U.S. respondents ages 18+.

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