Although demand for the Covid-19 vaccines once far outpaced the supply, demand has steadily decreased in recent weeks. If that trend continues, the country’s ability to reach herd immunity may be questionable. In response to the apparent vaccine hesitation occurring around the country, local and state governments are getting creative – so are some breweries -- even offering free beer to residents who get their vaccines. The team at Cheers All explains.
Immunologist Anthony Fauci, who serves as the director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and medical advisor to the president, has expressed concern about the likelihood of the U.S. reaching herd immunity given the plateau we seem to have reached regarding vaccinations. To achieve heard immunity, 80 percent of the U.S. must be immune to the virus, something experts fear will not happen unless more people get vaccinated. The push to reach the target has prompted a variety of creative incentives from local and state governments.
In Erie County, New York, for example, local breweries are partnering with the county Health Department to host pop-up vaccination clinics next to their taprooms. The partnership offers Moderna vaccines with a free pint glass and coupons for a free drink of choice to those who get vaccinated. A second free pint glass and drink will be offered four weeks later with the second Moderna shot.
“Here’s a good incentive,” said Erie county executive Mark Poloncarz, displaying a slide featuring Homer Simpson with a Duff's beer bottle to announce the program. “If this doesn’t work, I don’t know what will. Help get on the vaccine train, and if it takes a beer to do it, that’s OK. This is Buffalo. We love our beer. We've got some incredible microbreweries here."
“We’re going to do more people today at our first-dose clinics than most of our first-dose clinics in the last week combined,” Poloncarz said. “It’s been a success. We figured it would be pretty good, but now we’re seeing the results.”
Called the “Shot and a Chaser” program, it appears to be working. “…If it gets another 200 people vaccinated today who otherwise would not have, that’s 200 more people that are going to be protected from Covid-19,” Poloncarz said. “And 200 less people we need to get to eventually reach herd immunity. And that’s the important thing.”
Although anyone can take advantage of a free drink when they get vaccinated, county leaders are hoping the vaccine-for-beer effort will attract younger residents, particularly those in their 20s and 30s who have consistently had the highest rates of positive Covid-19 cases in recent weeks. In one recent week alone, more than 800 residents in 20s and 30s tested positive compared to just 41 county residents ages 80 and older.
In neighboring New Jersey, a similar program was offered by the state government. Any resident who is 21 or older and who received their first vaccine dose in May got a free beer by taking their vaccination card to a participating brewery. Called the “Shot and a Beer” program, more than three dozen New Jersey bars and breweries took part in the program.
Connecticut also launched a drink and a shot program in May. The Connecticut Restaurant Association partnered with Governor Lamont and the State of Connecticut in the #CTDrinksOnUs campaign, where participating Connecticut restaurants offered complimentary drinks (alcoholic or non-alcoholic) to patrons from May 19-31.
Louisiana will be offering its version of the “Shot for a Shot” campaign this June. Participating businesses will provide a free alcoholic or non-alcoholic drink to people who can prove they have been fully vaccinated within the previous seven days, the Louisiana Office of Alcohol and Tobacco Control said.
In Washington State, the Liquor and Cannabis Board gave businesses with liquor licenses the option to temporarily (ending June 15) offer an alcoholic beverage to customers with proof of vaccination for COVID-19 while the Illinois lawmakers recently passed legislation that allows bars and restaurants give out a free alcoholic drink to customers who have gotten vaccinated against COVID-19.
If you are a craft beer drinker, visit the Cheers All website to purchase glassware and other merchandise geared toward cider lovers.