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Only in America - Free Pot for a Shot

by Shell St. James about a month ago in pop culture

Ranging from beer to pot to hotdogs, American businesses will reward you for getting a vaccine.

Photo by Louis Hansel on Unsplash

If anyone had told me as a teenager in the early '80s, that in 2021 marijuana would be legal for recreational use in 16 states (plus DC), I would have choked on my bong hit.

Throw in a prediction that companies would start giving pot away for free to bribe you to get inoculated, I would have collapsed on the floor in a fit of giggles.

Yet, here we are.

Vaccine shots in American arms currently average 2.7 million per week (April 26 data), down from 3.4 million per week on April 13, hinting we are at the end of the desperate "get-me-a-shot-now" mentality, and steadily moving into "you-can't-make-me-get-a-shot" territory.

A new CNN poll out on April 29, 2021 shows 26% of Americans are not planning to seek a vaccine. Researchers are now truly worried. If those 1 in 4 Americans stand their ground and refuse the vaccine, we may not reach herd immunity, which is thought to be achieved when 85% of Americans can no longer catch the virus.

The danger lies in the virus staying active enough in the unprotected population that it will continue to mutate and possibly cause the vaccines to become ineffective for everyone.

What to do? That's where the freebies come in.

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Krispie Kreme donuts has promised, for the entirety of 2021, to award a free donut per day to anyone who shows proof of their vaccination.

Chagrin Cinemas in Cleveland is giving out free popcorn   to moviegoers showing their vaccination cards.

In New York, Nathan's Famous (hot dog chain) of Coney Island will award you a free hot dog on the same day you get vaccinated.

Sam Adams has announced they will give out vouchers for a free Sam Adams beer at your favorite bar, to those over 21 with vaccine certificates. The promotion lasts until May 15.

Publix and Kroger supermarkets are among businesses offering in-store gift cards as incentives for their employees to get jabbed. It's not a paltry sum, either. Kroger dishes out $100, while Publix gives a $125 gift card with the employee's proof of vaccination. In effect, the stores are feeding said employees for 7–10 days as a reward for getting pricked.

A Michigan cannabis distillery, The Greenhouse of Walled Lake, has been running a "Pot for Shots" program, in which they offer a free, pre-rolled joint if you present proof of vaccination. They have given out over 10,000 marijuana pre-rolls so far!

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While the proliferation of perks for a jab might do the trick in getting more Americans to roll up their sleeves, how will this trending reward system affect our global standing?

We may look a bit like spoiled brats, having to heavily incentivize something that most of the world sees as a privilege - a free vaccine.

Due to the highly inequitable global roll-out, nearly half of all countries have not yet been able to vaccinate even 1% of their population. The world's 92 poorest countries may not reach vaccination of 60% of their population until 2023.

A team at Duke University's Global Health Innovation Center found that high-income countries locked up 53 percent of near-term vaccine supply. They estimate that the world's poorest 92 countries cannot reach a vaccination rate of 60 percent of their populations until 2023 or later.

In sharp contrast, the US currently has enough vaccine for 70% of its population and is on track to have enough vaccine for everyone by the time summer is upon us. We have currently administered at least one shot to roughly 40% of the population.

The bottom line for global inequity? The U.S. and the 26 other nations considered to be the wealthiest on the planet, are currently vaccinating their residents at a rate 25x faster than the poorer countries are able to.

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As businesses across the U.S. bribe and cajole reluctant Americans to get vaccinated, one has to wonder how this is being perceived by less fortunate countries.

Are we the "rich kids on the block", dismissive and ungrateful for our good fortune? Will this be fresh fodder for anti-American propaganda?

America has not been hitting high on global approval for several years, and the botched handling of the pandemic in 2020 has only made things worse. According to a Pew Research Center poll in late 2020, positive views of the U.S. are at or near an all-time low in most countries.

However, these views may, and hopefully, will change, as we have a new administration, and President Biden seems to be on a quest to get America back on track with our allies.

According to White House press secretary, Jen Psaki, on Monday, April 26, the U.S. has plans to share 60 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine as soon as the vaccine receives federal approval in the coming months. This is welcome news for countries such as India, where Covid-19 infections have been setting global records for five days running, at well above 300,000 per day, and overwhelmed hospitals are facing a critical oxygen shortage.

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In the meantime, how many Americans will have their vaccine reluctance swayed by a free donut or a joint?

We'll have to wait and see. Money talks.

Some Americans may hold out in hopes of a federal cash incentive, as our momentum toward reaching herd immunity is predicted to slow drastically in the coming months, potentially upping the ante.

Hot dog, anyone?

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https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2021/world/covid-vaccinations-tracker.html

https://www.pewresearch.org/global/2020/09/15/us-image-plummets-internationally-as-most-say-country-has-handled-coronavirus-badly/

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2021/04/26/u-s-share-up-60-m-astrazeneca-covid-19-vaccine-doses-globally/7385354002/

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-04-09/when-will-world-be-fully-vaccinated-pace-is-2-400-faster-in-wealthy-countries

https://www.cnbc.com/2021/03/23/here-are-a-few-of-the-freebies-for-getting-the-covid-vaccine-.html

https://www.cnn.com/2021/04/29/politics/cnn-poll-covid-vaccines/index.html

https://www.thedrinksbusiness.com/2021/04/sam-adams-is-giving-away-free-beer-to-people-who-get-a-covid-vaccine/

https://www.mysavings.com/free-samples/Nathans-Hot-Dogs/149067/

pop culture
Shell St. James
Shell St. James
Read next: What is Black Cannabis?
Shell St. James

Wanderer, but never lost. Reader, writer, teacher and student. The written word feeds our souls, but eat some blackberries now and then, too - they're good for you!

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