How hard should Missouri push to get its residents vaccinated from COVID-19?
Amid spiking COVID-19 cases in Missouri combined with the more transmissible delta variant, Gov. Mike Parson has suggested the state may look to offer incentives to get vaccinated.
While we don't oppose the idea, we do have concerns.
Our county and our state are lagging behind the national average, which itself isn't close to giving us the benefit of herd immunity.
Missouri's rate for full vaccinations is nearly 40 percent, compared with the U.S. rate of 48 percent as of this writing. The Cole County rate was about 37 percent as of about a week ago.
As the governor pointed out, young people especially aren't getting vaccinated. In Missouri, just 34 percent of the 25-34 age group is fully vaccinated, he said.
We'd love to see higher vaccination rates. We believe the experts when they tell us the vaccination is safe and effective. But how far should our state go to lead a horse to water?
Parson shot down the Biden administration's idea of government workers going door to door to urge residents to get vaccinated.
Parson tweeted: "I have directed our health department to let the federal government know that sending government employees or agents door-to-door to compel vaccination would NOT be an effective OR a welcome strategy in Missouri!"
He's probably right - many unvaccinated Missourians probably wouldn't take kindly to someone from the government knocking on their door to suggest they be vaccinated.
The governor has, however, suggested he's interested in offering incentives.
As we recently reported, Parson told a reporter: "Everything's on the table right now whether we do incentives now for vaccines or not," Parson said. "The bottom line that people need to know: This virus is still here, and it's going to be here. It's just not going to go away."
Still, he said he's hesitant to encourage people to essentially pay people "to do what they should do for themselves."
We share that concern. The state is already running a $5 million ad campaign to promote the shots.
If it does come up with an incentive program, the state should make it as equitable as possible. Any lottery-type incentives or otherwise should be offered to not just the newly vaccinated, but for those of us who were previously vaccinated.
Vaccination incentives could help our state. But they're not the silver bullet toward boosting vaccination rates.
As we've suggested before, we believe the rates would increase if people ignored all the partisan noise and simply took the advice of their doctors.