Friday, May 14, 2021

The Road To Infantilization


If one were to judge by the fervour with which Canadians are availing themselves of vaccines to stop the spread of Covid-19, one would classify ours as a very mature response. Certainly, there will always be pockets of resistance among the anti-maskers, anti-vaxxers and conspiracy buffs, but on the whole, we are eager for the protection offered by these modern-day miracles of medicine.

Alas, the same cannot be said for our neighbours to the south. While it is true they have a much larger proportion of both partially and fully-vaccinated citizens, the problem becomes apparent when looking at those who have not been vaccinated and apparently are not keen to get the jab.

And this is where the real story begins. How to convince the other 50% of eligible Americans to get the vaccine? Time for a couple of carrots.

The first carrot is the appeal to renewed freedom. As the new CDC guidelines state, if you are fully vaccinated, you can begin to live normally again. 

  • You can resume activities that you did prior to the pandemic.
  • You can resume activities without wearing a mask or staying 6 feet apart, except where required by federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial laws, rules, and regulations, including local business and workplace guidance.
  • If you travel in the United States, you do not need to get tested before or after travel or self-quarantine after travel.

Oh, sweet liberty.

But what to do about those for whom such promises do not move the resistance dial?

How about a bigger carrot? Unfortunately, it is this larger-sized vegetable that, in my view, represents an infantilization of the population. And its message is a simple one: if you are good boys and girls and get the vaccine, you will be eligible for some nice treats.

For example, West Virginia will give $100 savings bonds to 16- to 35-year-olds who get a Covid-19 vaccine, Gov. Jim Justice said.

It would seem that money talks. Researchers found that

a third of the unvaccinated population said a cash payment would make them more likely to get a shot. The benefits were largest for those in the group getting $100, which increased willingness (34 percent said they would get vaccinated) by six points over the $25 group.

But there is much, much more on offer. Here is a sampling:

Illinois became the latest state to join the trend when it announced Thursday it will be doling out 50,000 free theme park tickets to anyone who has been vaccinated through a partnership with Six Flags Great America (the tickets are valued at a combined cost of $4 million).

 This comes after Ohio rolled out a similarly eye-popping incentive on Wednesday: A $1 million prize for five vaccinated residents chosen at random in a weekly lottery.

In New York, inoculated individuals can choose from a whole host of benefits, including free 7-day metro cards, tickets to sports games and some of the city’s key attractions (the Bronx Zoo, Brooklyn Botanical Garden and Lincoln Center) and, as of Thursday, free food from burger joint Shake Shack.

Indeed, even the mayor of New York is getting in on the act. If this is not childish, please tell me what it is:

Makes you want to go to New York for your second shot, eh? But wait, there's more!

While not ruling out cash prizes, New Jersey is currently offering a “shot and beer” program which rewards the newly inoculated with a free beer at participating breweries through the rest of this month, while Connecticut is also offering a free drink “on them” for residents who get vaccinated in May.

There are other states offering inducements as well, but I think you get the picture. Even the private sector is getting involved. Krispy Kreme, for example, is offering a free glazed doughnut, while Budweiser is offering debit cards for free beer. 

Are any of these measures ill-advised? Of course not, if they get more needles into arms. They are, however, a rather sobering reminder to all of us that human evolution clearly has a long, long way to go before we can truly call ourselves an advanced species.




  1. How do you distinguish from those genuinely vaccinated and those who claim to be for the "end of mask" benefits? The Covid altercations so popular on social media remind us how fervently these types can demand their "freedoms" while spurning any notion of responsibility. If nothing else, cite the first amendment!

    What I'm hearing now from the US authorities is that the dual vaccination protocol protects the individual from death and other severe reactions and lessens the risk of becoming infected at all. "Don't worry, be happy."

    I sense there's an element of one-jab-is-better-than-none desperation to this. Build up flagging support by telling people there is light at the end of the tunnel, they're almost there.

    Maybe new variants are evolving that will be resistant to current vaccines. Best to cross that bridge when you come to it. In the meantime spread the Good Word and take what you can get.

    And it's still possible that the Pfizer and Moderna, mRNA vaccines, are wildly more effective than anyone even hoped for at the outset. Maybe. Let's hope.

    There are various priorities, pandemic management versus patient protection for example, that can be complimentary or competing according to changing circumstances. How can we tell if CDC has "hit one out of the park" or is merely trying a new course?

    1. There are still many unknowns here, Mound. We hope for the best but should steel ourselves for something less, the inevitable bumps in the road. I won't be disposing of my masks or sanitizers anytime in the foreseeable future.

  2. It wasn't until reading this that I realized the CDC's announcement was possibly set up to provoke the hesitant to get the shot! I couldn't understand their directive that might make my fight with students to keep their masks on in class a nightmare! Now, at least it makes a little sense!

    1. When it comes to the American mentality, Marie, many things make only a little sense.