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‘It is ethical’: CCU professor explains why vaccine incentives are OK to offer

Updated: Jun. 10, 2021 at 8:26 PM EDT
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HORRY COUNTY, S.C. (WMBF) - Questions have been raised as to whether offering someone an incentive for getting vaccinated is ethical.

This comes at a time when companies and government agencies are providing rewards to residents for rolling up their sleeves.

The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control has partnered with breweries statewide for the ‘Shot and a Chaser’ campaign. Tidal Creek Brewing is taking part in the campaign. On Saturday, people can receive a free beer in exchange for getting vaccinated.

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Some viewers want to know if it’s ethical to offer you an incentive for rolling up sleeves and getting the COVID-19 shot.

One Coastal Carolina University professor said offering incentives are ethical, however, it all depends on what the reward is.

Julinna Oxley, a professor of philosophy and CCU’s director of The Jackson Family Center for Ethics and Values, said it’s common for employers and governmental organizations to offer positive incentives to encourage people to participate in certain actions and that includes trying to get more people to take the vaccine.

“In this context, employers and states are trying to figure out what’s going to help people psychologically to get the vaccine because this a public health issue. Usually, the CDC will come out with some recommendations or guidelines. What they’ve said in this case, any incentives are on the table. These are meant to be positive incentives to get people motivated to get the vaccine,” Oxley said.

However, Oxley said the incentive should not reach a point of where it’s super coercive. She told me that means the offer should not be so irresistible that it impacts someone’s ability to make a balanced choice that impacts their livelihood.

“Then we have to ask ourselves what’s is coercive and coercion,” Oxley said. “Something that would be considered super-coercive would be offering somebody like a million dollars or something to get the vaccine. The way we think of coercion is that it’s something that the person really wouldn’t have a choice that the offer is so good, the choice between doing the two of them, it’s really like, ‘Wow, a million dollars,’” Oxley said.

DHEC stated they hope the incentives with the breweries will motivate more of the young adult population to roll up their sleeves and get the shot.

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