Thursday, 10 June 2021 16:12

OPINION: Do as we say: Cooper passing out cash prizes in return for vaccine compliance

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Anyone who wanted a COVID vaccine has gotten a vaccine. 


Anyone who wants a vaccine can get a vaccine. It’s a fact transcending logical debate, child-like in its simplicity.

Not only is the vaccine free, but now, depending on where you live in North Carolina, the state will pay you for the quick shot in the arm. A kind of trick or treat, albeit sanctioned by the state and funded by taxpayers.

The state health department, through a program in Mecklenburg, Guilford, Rowan, and Rockingham counties, passed out Summer Cash Cards, worth 25 bucks, to people who get a first dose of the vaccine, as well as the people driving them to the clinic or wherever. 

More than 283 organizations have joined the campaign, which has reached an estimated 1.4 million North Carolinians, a news release from Gov. Roy Cooper says. 

The program, which ended this week, is part of the “Bring Back Summer” initiative, a brainchild of Cooper and the state health department. Thing is, summer wasn’t theirs to take from us in the first place, as I’ve written before. Same goes for the freedoms, civil liberties, and right to prosper Cooper removed with a never-ending series of executive and emergency orders, commencing more than a year ago.

Vaccines are the latest political grenade, now that we’re mostly over masks.

COVID isn’t gone, and it will probably always be with us. Still, we’ve dealt with it, and we continue to do so.

As of noon Thursday, June 10, just 1.8% of COVID tests returned positive, the health department says. Fifty-four percent of adults have gotten at least one dose of the vaccine, and about 50% are fully vaccinated. More than 8 million doses have been administered.

The reasons for our lurching return to normalcy are the sources of endless circular debate, whether one credits government intervention, personal responsibility, or the vaccine.

Doesn’t matter, really. People who refuse to get the shot, and I know this from close personal experience, will continue to refuse to get the shot. Plain and simple. No cajoling or cash payout — save, maybe, for all the chips in the Bellagio — will change their minds. Maybe, governor, talk to them, rather than the millions of us who got the vaccine because we figured it was the right thing to do.

Still, you continue to talk to us as though we were third-graders headed to the pickle factory for our first field trip.

“Getting your vaccine is an easy and effective way to protect yourself and your loved ones,” Cooper said in a statement. “These innovative efforts are helping us reach people from all communities so we can emerge from this pandemic quicker and safer.”

Apparently, only Cooper and health secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen have seen what emerging from the pandemic looks like, because most of the rest of us have gotten on with our lives.

Now comes talk Cooper on Thursday afternoon will announce a cash drawing for people who get the vaccine, The News & Observer is reporting.

“Cooper asked his fellow elected officials on the Council of State to approve a $1 million cash prize to be given to four people drawn every two weeks over eight weeks. On the same dates, another four randomized drawings will happen to award teenagers $125,000 college scholarships,” the N&O says.

People 18 and older who have received their first dose of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccines or the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, and a resident of North Carolina is eligible for the $1 million prize, the newspaper reports, citing documents from Cooper.

People who got the vaccine on or after June 10, the story says, will be entered twice, increasing their odds of winning, according to the proposed rules, which, I will add, isn’t fair to the responsible people — in their minds, anyway — who got the vaccine as quickly as they could.

Legislative leaders are apparently fine with the plan, though Senate leader Phil Berger told the N&O that it’s a personal decision. He’s right, of course, but the concept is lost on the governor and the many politicians like him. Public “leaders” who lecture and condescend, returning us all to that dreamy classroom of yesteryear.

“Stay with the group, and don’t wander off. Be nice to each other and follow instructions.”

In other words, do as we say. And maybe, just maybe, if you’re good we’ll give you a cookie.

John Trump is an award-winning journalist, former editor of several newspapers and author of "Still & Barrel: Craft Spirits in the Old North State."