With three separate COVID-19 vaccines authorized for emergency use in the United States, the pace of vaccinations is ramping up across the country. According to the CDC, over 126 million coronavirus vaccine doses have been administered as of March 22.
President Joe Biden has promised that there will be enough doses to vaccinate all adult Americans — approximately 300 million, per recent census tallies — by the end of May, and has required every state to open vaccine eligibility for all adults at the beginning of that same month.
But just because those doses will be available doesn’t mean they will necessarily be administered. The administration has taken numerous steps to address vaccine hesitancy, and has expanded access to the vaccines in rural and hard-to-reach areas in a push for increased vaccinations.
The private sector has stepped up as well, with a number of national chains offering incentives to their employees who get their COVID jabs.
Krispy Kreme took it a step further, announcing on Monday that it will offer a free Original Glazed doughnut for those with a vaccine record card, "anytime, any day, every day for the rest of the year."
"We all want to get COVID-19 behind us as fast as possible and we want to support everyone doing their part to make the country safe by getting vaccinated as soon as the vaccine is available to them," Krispy Kreme CMO Dave Skena said.
Qualified guests need at least one shot of the two-dose Moderna or Pfizer vaccine, or a Johnson & Johnson shot. Krispy Kreme will not document the vaccination record card because it contains personal information
While Krispy Kreme may be the largest national chain to offer vaccinated customers perks, many local restaurants across the country have implemented similar tactics in an effort to promote vaccinations in their communities.
Rumbleseat Bar & Grille, a restaurant in Chicopee, Massachusetts, announced in early February that they will offer a 20% discount for all dine-in meals on Monday for customers with proof they have received at least one vaccine. The promotion will run “until the mask mandate is over,” the company wrote in a Facebook post.
As of Monday, restaurants in Massachusetts are not subject to capacity limits on either indoor or outdoor dining, although the state urges restaurateurs to “structure operations to operate as much as possible through outdoor table service and to strictly limit indoor table service,” in part. Restaurants must also follow appropriate social distancing protocols.
Some states are also encouraging residents to get vaccinated against the virus by offering certain benefits to those who have a valid vaccine card.
Illinois Gov. J. B. Pritzker announced the state would enter a “bridge to Phase 5” stage once the state reaches a certain vaccine administration threshold, a move Pritzker said would allow for “higher capacity limits at places like museums, zoos and spectator events as well as increased business operations.”
Under the current stage, which the state government refers to as “Phase 4A modifications,” restaurants can open standing areas at 25% capacity, with a maximum party size of ten people. Once 70% of residents 65 years and older have been vaccinated statewide, the state will enter Phase 4B, of “the Bridge phase,” when restaurants will be able to operate standing areas at 30% capacity indoors and 50% capacity outdoors.
Illinois residents who can prove they have been either fully vaccinated against COVID-19, or who have proof of a negative PCR test within 1-3 prior to an event, will not count towards capacity limits once the state enters Phase 4B.
About 14% of the state’s residents have been fully vaccinated against the disease; Pritzker said Monday that nearly 64% of Illinois seniors have started their coronavirus vaccination process.
“It's time to begin to cautiously move toward normalcy, and it's imperative that we do so in a way that maintains all the progress we've made to date,” Pritzker said in part, adding: “I invite all Illinoisans to join me in wearing your mask and getting vaccinated when it's your turn. Step by step, we can get out of this the same we came into it - together.”
That guidance notably does not include the city of Chicago.
Incentives aren’t limited to food, either. In early January, DC Marijuana Justice — a marijuana advocacy group located in the nation’s capital — announced plans to offer people who got their coronavirus vaccine free bags of weed, calling the initiative “Joints for Jabs.”
The trend caught on, with other dispensaries in states where marijuana has been legalized promoting similar deals.
The Greenhouse of Walled Lake, a dispensary in Michigan, launched a program called "Pot for Shots," partnering with UBaked Cannabis Company to give free, pre-rolled joints to cannabis connoisseurs who have gotten their coronavirus shot. The program was only supposed to run from January through February, but proved so popular — and effective — that it was extended for at least another month.
“I wanted to raise awareness of the importance of getting the COVID-19 vaccination as our state and our nation battle this devastating pandemic," owner Jerry Millen said in a statement, per Detroit Metro Times. "'Pot for Shots' is my way of reaching out to both our existing and new customers. I have always supported the safe and responsible use of cannabis and I hope and pray that this is the beginning of the end of this horrible pandemic."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.