As millions of Americans wait to see if Congress will pass a second coronavirus-related stimulus package to help those facing economic hardship, one former Democratic congressman is suggesting that the lawmakers add a provision to getting another check.
In an interview with CNBC, former Maryland Rep. John Delaney, who served in the House from 2013 to 2019, said that he believed that the government should consider giving out stimulus checks to those who get the vaccine for COVID-19.
Though a vaccine has not yet been approved in the United States, a drug manufactured by Pfizer–BioNTech was recently given the green light by the United Kingdom and it is believed the U.S. will soon follow suit. Vaccines have also been approved in Russia and China, though those drug candidates have not yet undergone a final round of testing unlike Pfizer’s.
Delaney explained that it should be the mission of the government to get around three-quarters of the population vaccinated as quickly as possible and that he believes a check would be the best motivation for millions of citizens.
“The faster we get 75 percent of this country vaccinated, the faster we end COVID and the sooner everything returns to normal,” he said.
Delaney also stated that he hoped a financial incentive would help push aside any fears about the drug’s safety. A large portion of the population has voiced skepticism about getting a shot, and fewer than 60 percent of Americans have said they anticipate getting vaccinated.
“We have to create, in my judgment, an incentive for people to really accelerate their thinking about taking the vaccine,” he added.
“If you’re still afraid of the vaccine and don’t want to take it, that’s your right,” Delaney said.
“You won’t participate in this program,” the former congressman continued.
“But guess what?” he added.
“You’re going to benefit anyhow, because we’ll get the country to herd immunity faster, which benefits you. So I think everyone wins.”
That said, there are some issues with the proposed plan. For starters, though the vaccine appears to be on track to gain approval within days, scientists have warned that it will nevertheless take months to distribute the medication. Part of this is logistics: healthcare workers and those who are older or high-risk will be given doses before younger and healthier candidates.
This means that most people could get the shot in April at the very earliest. This date would likely be too far in the future for many who are struggling at present — especially as many states have reentered lockdowns following spiking infection rates.