Manitobans come up with creative ways to incentivize vaccination — but is it necessary?

Although the number of vaccinated Manitobans continues to grow, a number of local businesses and organizations are coming up with creative ways to encourage even more people to get the shot.

For one new local coffee company, that means offering free drinks to anyone who gets vaccinated.

Empty Cup Collective owner Marc Tallman told Global News the idea behind the Transcona roastery’s “vaccinated and caffeinated” program came about when the company’s staff members became eligible for vaccines.

“We thought it would be a cool initiative … so we’re offering a free medium drink for everyone who comes in after they get their vaccine,” said Tallman.

“You just come in with your sticker and any of the baristas would be happy to get what you want.”

Tallman, who opened Empty Cup Collective just last month and is already planning a second location in Sage Creek, said support has been strong from the community so far.

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Another incentive for Manitobans to get the shot: potential free tuition at a local community college.

Assiniboine Community College in Brandon is holding an Armed for Fall contest, which will cover domestic tuition for the 2021-22 school year for a lucky winner — as long as they’re vaccinated.

Read more: Manitoba sees record COVID-19 vaccination booking as eligibility dropped to 12 and up

University of Manitoba ethics professor Arthur Schaefer told 680 CJOB that incentivizing the vaccines may be jumping the gun, as it’s not yet clear whether the province — or the country — will be able to reach herd immunity solely through people who want to get the vaccine for health and safety reasons.

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“Why do we need incentives when the vaccine will protect the vaccinated person against dying, ending up in the intensive care unit, being seriously ill, harming their family?

“If it’s a really good thing for society, and if it’s going to give us back our freedom to live a more normal life, why do we need to give people (an incentive) to get the vaccine?

“Some people are going to say, if you’re paying people or giving them prizes of rewards for the vaccine, there must be something wrong with the vaccine. If you’ve got to bribe me to take it … it could potentially backfire. Some people may get their backs up, ‘Hey, you’re trying to pressure me into doing it.’”

Schaefer said a more effective method is to remove barriers to vaccine availability — like the province’s recent announcement that workers should be given paid time to get the shot — and increase the public’s trust in the safety and importance of the vaccine.

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