As of July 9th, slightly over 67.4% of U.S. adults 18 and older have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 (hereafter Covid) vaccination, and approximately 60 percent are fully vaccinated. However, Covid vaccination rates vary widely across the states and U.S. Territories with Vermont having close to 86% of its residents who have received one Covid vaccination dose, and Mississippi having only 47.2% of its residents having received at least one dose, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). While the U.S. came close to meeting President Biden's goal of having at least 70% of adults receive one Covid vaccination dose by July 4th, some areas of the country are lagging far behind that goal.
States have used a variety of incentives to bolster Covid vaccination (vax) rates but pockets of strong vaccination resistance and/or other barriers remain. Financial incentives have worked to boost vax rates in the short-term, but the effect of those incentive programs have tailed off significantly in the last several weeks. One idea that might lead to increasing the Covid vax rates again, is to provide tax incentives for every member of a family that gets fully vaccinated. Both the federal government and state/local/tribal/territorial governments can create tax credit incentives for their residents who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. In particular, the federal government should look into providing perhaps a $1,000 tax credit per person. So families with dependents can file their 2021 tax returns claiming themselves and each of their dependents who have been fully vaccinated. States and local governments should also consider offering the same type of tax credit incentive.
In order to prevent fraudulent vaccination claims, the U.S. needs to provide a more robust and secure system for proof of Covid vaccination purposes. An alarming number of people interviewed by media members have said they would obtain a forged vaccination card if Covid vaccinations were to be required to fly or enter certain buildings and geographic areas. Therefore, the U.S. government should devise a secure proof of Covid vaccination system and require that system be utilized in order to claim the proposed Covid vax tax credit ("Less Tax for the Vax") ("Get the Vax and Skip Some Tax"). And, this type of vaccination authentication system should be universally available to state and local governments to use as well if they develop a similar tax credit incentive program.
Ohio Governor Mike DeWine's Covid vaccination incentive plan that offered full four-year scholarships to State colleges, was an excellent idea. The federal government should explore expanding this plan and create a college/vocational/trade school program that offers scholarship money to everyone who gets fully vaccinated against COVID-19. A college/vocational/trade school incentive plan would not only assist in increasing Covid vax rates, but would also serve a very beneficial purpose of increasing educational opportunities for U.S. residents. Extra incentive amounts could be designed for vocational fields that are short of employees and in need of more applicants. For instance, doctors in rural and under-served areas. Medical school is very expensive and out-of-reach for most U.S. residents, but a program to provide significant scholarship incentives for getting fully vaccinated against Covid could be created by combining new scholarship awards for Covid vaccinations with existing tuition waivers that are granted to new doctors agreeing to work for a certain period of time in under-served areas. Public Health positions are another example of a field that needs more employees, and extra scholarship amounts could be used as an incentive to get more employees into the Public Health arena. Other federal departments could join in this "Dollars for Scholars" program such as the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) offering Covid vaccination scholarship money for those agreeing to serve in pre-designated Public Health positions, as well.