The UK government will be partnering with various firms to offer bribes to young people who have not yet taken the vaccine, including offers of free pizza, cheap taxi rides, and discounted cinema tickets.
The British population has currently one of the highest vaccine uptakes in the world, with around 88.5% of adults having had their first dose, according to the Department of Health and Social Care. However, young people have been much slower to take the jab than the general population, with only two thirds having taken their first shot. As a result, the government is partnering with companies including Uber, Deliveroo, and others to offer what is tantamount to bribes to young people if they get the vaccine.
Uber will offer discounted rides and meals to anyone with the vaccine through its Uber Eats platform, with Deliveroo also offering discounts on takeaways across the country. Fellow ride-sharing app Bolt is also set to offer totally free rides for anyone to a vaccination centre. The “incentive” program is likely to expand, and will include free tickets at various cinemas, and discounted or free drinks at major coffee outlets. A “flagship” event to promote the scheme will be set up by the government where vouchers will be handed out.
Pizza Pilgrims, a chain restaurant from London, is planning on turning two of its restaurants into “pop-up” vaccination centres, where anyone getting the vaccine will be given a free slice of pizza. “It really is, for us, just the right thing to do,” Gavin Smith, director of the chain told Sky News. “If that is the difference for somebody, who is tight on time, to come and get their jab, then we’re happy to give them a slice of pizza when they’ve had their jab”, he continued, noting that 70% of his staff under 26 had not been vaccinated. “This is to encourage as many of our young employees, as much as the general population, to get their jab.”
However, the government has insisted that nobody offering vaccine bribes would request or store any health data related to the scheme. It is therefore unclear exactly how anyone involved could go about checking whether somebody was vaccinated or not, leaving it open to many unvaccinated or previously vaccinated people to take advantage of the free goodies on offer.
The UK government’s scheme differs to that of America, where the Biden administration has called on state and local governments to offer $100 directly to people who take the vaccine. Biden admitted that such a scheme would seem “unfair” to people who have already taken the vaccine, but that everybody benefits “if we can get more people vaccinated.”