When our cover story on 95 reasons to get vaccinated came out yesterday, everything began to change. The CDC announced what people who follow the science have known for a long time — once you're vaccinated, masks are almost completely unnecessary.
Gov. Jay Inslee followed suit by announcing that Washington state would completely lift its COVID restrictions by June 30, or even sooner if more people got vaccinated.
Not only that, but in the last two weeks, the Spokane community has gone from talking about vaccination like it's a chore we do out of obligation — think flossing or paying our taxes — to talking about it like the scientific miracle it is.
Instead of merely lamenting Inslee's restrictions on local businesses, Mayor Nadine Woodward has transformed herself into Nadine the Vaccine Promoting Machine. The downtown business community, from restaurant owners like David Pizza's Mark Starr to the Downtown Spokane Partnership's Mark Richard, have been looking for new ways to attract people to convenient pop-up clinics downtown.
"It’s super important that we get employees back to work downtown. The downtown economy relies on those employees," Richard told the Inlander earlier this month. "[Vaccines] are one of the few ways to take control back of the situation and get back to normal. If we don’t do this, we’re leaving it in other people’s hands and to chance. That’s going to be a really slow and costly process in so many senses of the word."
Richard has been working on ways to make downtown vaccine clinics fun enough to attract the 20- to 40-year-old crowd, the age group that is less likely to be hospitalized or die from COVID, but likely to contract it and spread it.
That means making a vaccine clinic look more like a block party, he says. Think live music, outdoor sidewalk games and free food.
Suddenly, we're in an era where everyone is floating outside-the-box ideas to convince people to get vaccinated. Give away free beer! Offer a weekly million-dollar lottery for vaccinated people! Joints for Jabs! Put Anthony Fauci in a dunk tank!
As the saying goes when you're brainstorming, there are no bad ideas. Let's test that theory with some ideas of limited value of our own:
1. Promotion where if you make a half-court shot at the Spokane Arena vaccination clinic you get free vaccines for life.
2. Enter all vaccinated patients into a raffle to win an original, signed 12x18 Spokane Regional Health District educational poster: “HIGHWAY TO THE ‘DANGER ZONE’: Avoiding foodborne illness by heating and thawing meat correctly.”
5. Include just a teeny bit of vaccine in every dose of heroin, a public health strategy known as "harm reduction.”
6.Convince County Commissioner Al French to wear a Spokane Regional Health District “Vacciney the COVID Safety Buddy” syringe mascot costume.
7. Bring back polio for a few months, to teach everyone a lesson about taking vaccines for granted.
8. Partner with the CIA to pretend like they're trying to root out an infamous terrorist mastermind, but in truth it's an elaborate cover for a vaccination drive.
9. Pair up and go door to door and ask members of the public if they’ve heard the good news that they can be saved by accepting the vaccine into their arms.
10. To convince people on an individual level, bring in a world-renowned "experiential persuasion" consultant who only goes by the name "Jigsaw."
11. Everyone has a small chance of getting a collectible foil-wrapped limited-edition vaccine.
12. Two words: Vaccine Jarts.
13. Elaborate globetrotting treasure hunt where competitors learn at the end that being protected from COVID-19 is the most valuable treasure of all.
14. Hold a Fourth of July bonfire where everyone vaccinated can ritualistically burn their masks, face shield, disinfectant and 6-foot tape measures.
15. Let vaccinated people submit suggestions for the name and design of the next COVID-19 variant. A couple suggestions to get you started:
- B.1.1.9: Makes the B.1.1.7 variant look like the B.1.1.3 variant.
- Ms. Covid-19: Variant that looks identical to COVID-19, but with a little pink bow on its head
- Covid Classic: Covid as it was meant to be experienced. Spreads largely via surface contact with grocery bags, mail and playground equipment. Masks are ineffective with this variant, but you'll be safe if you wash your hands and avoid touching your face .
- COVID-19: The Snyder Cut: Symptoms last twice as long, with victims reporting slowed reaction times, a reduced ability to perceive color, and the loss of a sense of humor.
- Corvid-19: Also infects ducks and other waterfowl.
16. Once per year, when you're pulled over for speeding, you are allowed to just slide the officer your vaccination card and give him a giant wink, and he will be required to say, "Seems like everything is in order. Sorry to inconvenience you, ma'am" and let you off with a warning.
17. Krispy Kreme is already offering free daily doughnuts to vaccinated people. But what if they upped the ante and also offered a free doughnut hole?
18. Task political ad gurus to produce a spot where COVID-19 is shown in black-in-white with scary music as a deep-voiced narrator says things like "COVID-19: Wrong for your respiratory system, wrong for America" and reveals skeletons lurking in COVID's past, like that one time it killed 583,000 Americans. Follow it up with a warmly lit ad where Moderna and Pfizer are shown walking together as a smiling couple down a suburban street pushing their beaming baby, J.J., in a stroller, as their adorable golden retriever, Novavax, trots alongside.
"Vaccines," Voice of Trustworthiness Morgan Freeman narrates, "They gave you a shot. Isn't it time you returned the favor?"
19. Tell Idaho that greedy, tax-and-spend Californians are trying to take vaccines that the hard-working people of Idaho earned.
20. Use taxpayer dollars to buy a tremendous amount of Inlander advertising.