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With millions of Americans struggling to pay rent this month, many are still holding out for some kind of financial relief to come from the federal government before the holiday season ends. Unfortunately, it’s looking unlikely that Congress will pass another stimulus check before the end of the year to follow up on the single payment of $1,200 distributed back in April.
Instead, this holiday season will look very different for a number of reasons. Not only are the rising cases of COVID-19 preventing many from traveling to visit family, but millions are facing unemployment, eviction, food insecurity, and other precarities caused by the pandemic.
At the same time, the U.S. government is putting a rush order on COVID-19 vaccines being manufactured by a handful of pharmaceutical companies. However, recent reporting shows that a large number of Americans are skeptical of the vaccines. As NBC reports, a Gallup poll released in November found that 42 percent of people across the political spectrum would not get the vaccine.
Marrying these horrifying realities, some politicians are suggesting using cash incentives to convince people to get vaccinated. According to NBC, former presidential candidate John Delaney is proposing giving $1,500 checks to people who get the COVID-19 vaccine.
"We have to create, in my judgment, an incentive for people to really accelerate their thinking about taking the vaccine," the former Democratic congressman for Maryland said in an interview. "The faster we get 75 percent of this country vaccinated, the faster we end COVID and the sooner everything returns to normal, which means we don't need any more programs.”
Fellow presidential candidate Andrew Yang previously co-signed the proposal on Twitter.
While it seems like a simple solution, it’s troubling when we consider that the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic disproportionately affect communities of color. It also presents the question: is it ethical to withhold life-saving funds for food or rent from people because they aren’t sure if they feel comfortable with the new vaccine?
Some economists have suggested alternative amounts like $1,000 or $2,000, but there are no formal proposals for this kind of stimulus check in congress. It’s also unclear how quickly some could receive the vaccine, with the CDC prioritizing certain population groups like the elderly and healthcare workers. NBC reports that young people could wait up to six months to receive the vaccine.