Cash for Jabs and other incentives for vaccinations against COVID-19

Governments around the world are experimenting with various incentives such as cash and free beer to encourage vaccinations against COVID-19. In episode 100 of my Economics Explored podcast, I chat with Melbourne-based economist and regulatory economics expert Isaac Katz about his clever proposal to incentivise vaccinations and to overcome vaccine hesitancy. You can read all about Isaac’s plan in his discussion paper Incentives for achieving COVID 19 herd immunity through vaccination.

Key features of Isaac’s plan are:

1. Rewards (incentives) could be in the form of payments to each vaccinated individual, and eligibility to win a significant lottery prize and smaller prizes. 

2. The incentives would only be payable if a specified national vaccination rate is met by a specified due date.  Incentives would not be paid prior to the due date.  This approach creates a focus on the objective – which is to maximise the national vaccination rate.  Rewarding individuals for being vaccinated without recognising the national objective will fail to promote community based actions to increase vaccination rates.

Tying the level of incentives to the overall vaccination rate and setting a cut-off date is a clever way of encouraging people to pressure their family and friends to get vaccinated as soon as possible (given the supply constraints). One of the problems with the Albanese plan was that the Government could end up spending billions of dollars but not achieve a vaccination rate that gets us close to herd immunity.

For info, Isaac is a Director of Harding Katz Pty Ltd, a small consulting practice based in Melbourne specialising in utility regulation, energy market reform, business strategy and applied economics. He has provided economic and regulatory advice to regulators, Government and regulated businesses on a wide range of strategy and policy issues. Prior to moving to Australia, Isaac worked as a senior economic assistant for the UK electricity regulator (now Ofgem); and as a pool price analyst for a regional electricity company. Isaac also worked as an economist for Railtrack plc, focusing on aspects of the regulatory framework prior to and immediately after privatisation. He has a Master of Arts, Economics, from Cambridge University and a Master of Science, Business Economics, from Strathclyde University.

Please feel free to comment below. Alternatively, you can email comments, questions, suggestions, or hot tips to

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7 Responses to Cash for Jabs and other incentives for vaccinations against COVID-19

  1. Katrina Drake says:

    A lot of people would be willing to pay $300 to get a vaccination. Scarcity has been the biggest issue, and a very slow rollout of the first phases meaning most of the population have had to sit back and wait, while they looped round and round on the vaccination registration site.

    It was also very difficult for older people, living in their own home , to navigate the on-line registration systems.

    I’ve now had 2 doses of vaccine, and would have happily paid to receive them.

    Availability seems to be improving with GP’s and pharmacies able to vaccinate.

    The free lolly-pop at the mass immunisation clinics seems to be making most people happy.

    Have you had yours ? – or are you waiting for the $300 dollar-redoos.

    The cash incentive may in fact make more people hesitate – waiting for the cash incentive before they will get their vaccination.

    • Gene Tunny says:

      Hi Katrina, I agree the lack of supply is the big issue at the moment and Isaac acknowledges that in his paper and the conversation. I haven’t had the jab yet, largely because it seemed like too much of a hassle to try to find a time via the Qld Health website. I will get it when it becomes easier to get – e.g. walk-in mass vaccination clinic. Not waiting for an incentive. Thanks for the comment.

  2. Katrina Drake says:

    Hi Gene, it’s not a hassle – just register for an appointment at one of the mass vaccination hubs. No need to wait, they will send you an appointment. There are no walk-in clinics , you need to register for your turn. All very organised.

    Do it tonight ! Lucky you have me to look after you!


  3. Katrina Drake says:

    Registered yet ? Every day you delay is a day longer the world pandemic will continue.

    • Gene Tunny says:

      Katrina, I had registered back in June, but there weren’t any appointments available then. This is the last email I received from Qld Health on 28 June…

      “Dear Gene,

      This message relates to your invitation to book an appointment for your first COVID-19 vaccination.

      We are currently experiencing significant demand for vaccinations and there are limited appointments available at this time.

      If you have not yet been able to book your first appointment, please be patient, we are making more appointments available on our booking system every day.

      We will email you again when there is extra appointment availability in your area so you can book a first dose appointment. At the time of having your first dose you will be booked in for your second dose.”

      To date, Queensland Health has not emailed me again as far as I can tell. Possibly because I’m not in a priority group. Given my age, I’m not considered either highly vulnerable or a 20-39 year old potential Super Spreader. I would like to get the jab and I have registered, but have been waiting for Queensland Health to let me know when I can.

  4. Bob says:

    Gene, if you’re willing to get AZ there a appointments available this week using this online checker:

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