Eye On Illinois: Brainstorming vaccine incentives with a Prairie State twist

Who doesn’t love free stuff?

The Illinois National Guard and Randolph County Health Department will host a coronavirus vaccination clinic at the World Shooting and Recreational Complex on May 14 and 15. Adults who get their shots those days are eligible for 100 free targets — trap, skeet or sporting clays — to use at the center any time through October.

Another existing promotion is free admission to the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum in Springfield ($15 per adult), available to anyone with a vaccine card through the end of June.

In promoting the target offer, Gov. JB Prtizker said “there will be a lot of free stuff I’ll be announcing to get people vaccinated.”

Randolph County is pretty far from most of the state’s population, and not everyone is into target shooting. But all that means is now is a good time to brainstorm about what else Illinois could offer to incentivize injections.

The targets carry a retail value of between $26 to $35. In that spirit, here’s a list of comparable expenses with a decidedly Illinois twist:

Champaign County: One ticket to a University of Illinois home football game, though probably against one of the lesser opponents, such as the Charlotte 49ers (Oct. 2) or Rutgers Scarlet Knights (Oct. 30).

Jo Daviess County: One Soaring Eagle and two Alpine Slide rides at Chestnut Mountain Resort in Galena. This goes for $30 on weekends and summer holidays and is an excellent way to experience Northwestern Illinois’ stunning vistas.

Lake County: A one-day admission to Six Flags Great America, which starts at $29.99 (maybe throw in free parking, too).

La Salle County: A one-month membership in the Brew Club at Tangled Roots Brewing Company in Ottawa, a great value at $25 based on two six-packs and a beer flight alone, not to mention the other benefits. Maybe we could sweeten the pot with a discount on the second month for those who commit to a full year.

McClean County: A $30 gift card to be spent on carryout service from one of the two Steak ‘n Shake locations in Normal, where Gus Belt founded the restaurant in 1934. (It makes sense to make this available at any location, but the local tie-in would be extra special.)

Peoria County: A two-seat pod near the dugouts for a Chiefs game at Dozer Park (worth $16 each).

Winnebago County: Three full admissions to the Anderson Japanese Gardens — timed reservations required — worth up to $33 total.

Millions of Illinoisans felt being inoculated was incentive enough, but leveraging state resources to promote the push toward herd immunity while boosting businesses, especially those that suffered financially over the past year, seems a winning combination.

What offers would you suggest?

• Scott T. Holland writes about state government issues for Shaw Local News Network. Follow him on Twitter at @sth749. He can be reached at sholland@shawmedia.com.