US Companies Offer Sweet Deals to Overcome Vaccine Hesitation 

American corporations are offering a growing cornucopia of special deals and promotions to encourage people in the U.S. to get vaccinated against COVID-19.Vaccine activism among some of the nation’s best-known brands comes as daily totals for jabs in the arm have declined by roughly 50% since mid-April. U.S. health officials say convincing the hesitant to roll up their sleeves is critical for defeating the coronavirus, a message that appears to have been heard loud and clear in corporate boardrooms.Ride-booking services, food retailers and even dating sites have teamed up with the White House to help push forward President Joe Biden’s goal of getting at least one shot into 70% of adults by July. To encourage more people to get the shot, America’s largest pharmacy chain, CVS, has started a sweepstakes campaign for those who sign up. More than 1,000 prizes will be handed out to people who get, or plan to get, vaccinated through CVS by July 10. The winnings include cash, cruises and other vacations. Dr. Kyu Rhee, senior vice president of CVS Health, said the company has already dispensed more than 17 million COVID vaccinations. ”Getting as much of the population fully vaccinated will bring us one step closer to all the things we’ve missed during the past 14 months and keep our country moving in the right direction,” he said in a statement.The United Airlines “Your Shot to Fly” sweepstakes includes free flights for a year worldwide. (Photo courtesy of United Airlines)As the pandemic appears to be winding down in the U.S., many people are eager to travel. United Airlines is helping some of them through its ”Your Shot to Fly” sweepstakes that will give away free flights. Until June 22, immunized frequent flyer passengers can upload their vaccination record to the airline’s mobile app or website for a chance to win round-trip tickets or free flights for a year to United’s destinations worldwide. In a statement, United CEO Scott Kirby said: “We’re excited to give people one more reason to get vaccinated so they can reunite with friends and family or take that long-awaited vacation which all could be just one shot away.”From travel to food, customers are getting rewards for being vaccinated, including sweet treats.Krispy Kreme shops are giving away one free doughnut each day until the end of the year to people who show they are immunized.At many Shake Shack fast food locations, customers with a vaccination card can get a free side of fries through June 12 with the purchase of a hamburger or chicken sandwich.At McDonalds, some 50 million coffee cups will feature vaccine information. (Deborah Block/VOA)While not giving away food freebies, McDonalds has partnered with the Biden administration to promote vaccinations by printing information on some 50 million coffee cups beginning in July. Featuring the slogan ”We Can Do This,” the aim of the campaign is to encourage Americans who are hesitant to get vaccinated. In a statement, U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra noted that customers will be able to get “trusted information about vaccines when they grab a cup of coffee or order a meal.”Some people don’t have transportation to get to vaccination sites, so ride-sharing firms Lyft and Uber are helping them by giving free rides for inoculations until July 4. Lyft is funding up to $15 each way, while Uber is covering up to $25 back and forth.Both companies use their own apps to pick up customers.”We’ve built a new easy-to-use in-app experience,” Uber’s website says, ”where users will be able to find nearby available vaccines from tens of thousands of local providers.” On the dating site OkCupid, people can add that they are vaccinated. (Photo courtesy of OkCupid)Some stores are offering discounts for getting immunized on-site. At Target, a merchandise retailer, customers receive $5 off any in-store purchase, while Albertsons is offering a 10% food discount for people who get vaccinated at its grocery stores. For those seeking romance among the inoculated, online dating site OKCupid recently launched a profile badge that lets users sort other users by vaccination status.  “The (I’m Vaccinated) badge allows daters to signal to others that they’ve been vaccinated,” Ariel Charytan, the company’s CEO, said in a press release, “and will direct users who aren’t to a government-approved resource where they can find a vaccination site near them.”Profiles of the daters who are immunized are given a “boost,” meaning they can be seen by more users.There are also freebies for the practical-minded. For the tens of millions of people who got the jab and want to protect their vaccinated cards, office supply chains Office Depot and Office Max are running a promotion through July 25 where they will laminate them free of charge.