The idea is twofold, according to Gov. Tim Walz. It’s to raise the state’s vaccination rate into the range of 70%, he hopes. It also is an obvious opportunity to promote the state’s amenities.

“Take advantage of the incentives we’re offering,” he said during a May news conference. “Get out and explore Minnesota.”

In Ohio, the state is promoting “Vax-a-Million,” a campaign it hopes will increase awareness of “the availability and the efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines and provide incentives for Ohioans to get a COVID-19 vaccination.”

For Ohio residents 18 and older, it includes five drawings for $1 million. For those between the ages of 12 and 17, it includes five full scholarships — including room and board, tuition and books — to any state university in Ohio. Data in the weeks after “Vax-a-Million” was announced showed a 53% increase in weekly vaccines in that state.

WDAY logo
listen live
watch live
Newsletter signup for email alerts

As of early this week, North Dakota has not offered any sort of vaccine incentive, but it should. Not only does it increase the chance that more North Dakotans will get a shot, but it obviously comes with associated benefits for the state itself. In Minnesota, for instance, think of the news coverage that has come from Walz’s “get out and explore Minnesota” quote from last month. We suspect it’s no coincidence that “Explore Minnesota” is the name of the state’s tourism department.

Here’s another: Anheuser-Busch announced last week that it will give every American — those of drinking age, that is — a beer if the U.S. reaches its goal of having 70% of the population vaccinated by July 4. If that milestone is achieved by the Fourth, anyone of drinking age can upload a picture of themselves at a drinking establishment and they will receive a $5 voucher for a beer or non-alcoholic drink. Just in case, here’s the address of the site that will accept the pictures: mycooler.com/beer.

Even President Joe Biden is pushing the campaign: “Get a shot and have a beer,” he said.

Think of the marketing value that comes with the president getting behind a promotional campaign by a private company. Anheuser-Busch gets it.

As of last week, about 52% of U.S. residents have had at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine; about 42% of the population is fully vaccinated.

In North Dakota, the numbers are roughly 42% and 32%, respectively. Obviously, North Dakotans could use some sort of incentive or reminder.

And if nothing else, a campaign pushed by North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum — one that replicates the Minnesota outdoors program — could be an inexpensive yet impactful way to promote in-state parks, destinations or universities as we emerge from the coronavirus pandemic. North Dakota destinations, universities and hospitality businesses could use a little pick-me-up.

As other states grasp the importance of vaccinations and as they recognize an idea that creates cheap yet widespread promotional buzz, an opportunity is missed in North Dakota.

This other view is the opinion of the editorial board of our sister publication, the Grand Forks Herald.