Satire website ‘The Babylon Bee’ recently published an article about a fake ‘cigarettes for vaccine’ scheme that highlighted the issue of how companies are pushing benefits to inoculated individuals in a bid to promote vaccination. The ‘news’ is about cigarette manufacturer Marlboro offering a free carton of cigarettes to people who prove they are inoculated.
A quote from the article pokes fun at the cigarette’s cancer risk as well: “We want to promote public health, so we’re going to make sure people get vaccinated by tempting them with our smooth, rich cigarettes,” says a Philip Morris executive as he strokes a cat in his dark office lit by torches.
“See, we figured out that as long as we were pro-vaccine, health officials would continue to look the other way as we sell our cancer-causing products. Muahahahaha!”
Many have lamented that people need to be offered benefits to encourage them to be vaccinated against a viral outbreak that could take their lives. Others have criticized the effort as discriminative against non-vaccinated people, portraying vaccination as compulsory and creating pressure on them to ‘comply like everyone else.’
The concern is that their freedom to make an independent decision regarding their own health care is being infringed upon; it’s becoming the government and pharmaceutical companies who decide what people put in their bodies. For many, this is unacceptable and the degradation of basic human dignity that extinguishes the concept of freedom.
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The reasons given by those who reject vaccines range from religious belief and freedom of choice to the experimental nature of the vaccines and a fundamental loss of trust in institutional policy.
Some of the companies which are currently offering benefits are given below.
- Krispy Kreme has offered people a free doughnut if they present their vaccination card. And this is not even a one-time offer. Those who comply can get a doughnut every single day for the rest of 2021 by showing the card. The company also plans to send free doughnuts to select vaccination centers worldwide to support volunteers and healthcare workers who have joined the vaccination drive. Krispy Kreme also offers four hours of paid time off for employees so that they can get inoculated without compromising their wages.
- Chagrin Cinemas in Cleveland is offering vaccinated people free popcorn, with the offer valid until the end of April.
- In Arizona, Mint Dispensary provides free cannabis to people who have received one or two shots of coronavirus vaccine in March.
- Bus service StarMetro in Tallahassee, Florida, gives seniors free rides to vaccination sites.
- Market Garden Brewery offers 10-cent beers to the first 2,021 customers who show their vaccination cards.
- A Michigan marijuana dispensary, Greenhouse of Walled Lake, offers one free pre-rolled reefer to inoculated individuals above the age of 21.
- Craft beer business Village Tap in Chicago will hand out 1,000 gift cards worth $10 each to vaccinated customers. “There is a lot of anger and frustration within the hospitality industry regarding COVID restrictions… Promoting the vaccines was a way for us to begin to engage around how we are going to get out of the situation we are currently in, positively and constructively,” Jeff Hoffman, owner of the Village Tap, told Fortune.
In a recent statement, President Joe Biden has committed to making 90 percent of Americans eligible for vaccines by April 19, beating the early target date of May 1 by almost two weeks. The remaining 10 percent is expected to be eligible by May 1.
Biden also promised that vaccination centers would be established within five miles of a person’s home. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 195 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been distributed, of which over 150 million doses have been administered.