Unilever is tempting vaccine skeptics with free ice cream

Chef José Andrés explains why he's offering a $50 gift card for his restaurants to those who get the Covid-19 vaccine and weighs in on Dr. Anthony Fauci's comments about relaxing indoor mask mandates.

Posted: May 10, 2021 5:10 PM
Updated: May 10, 2021 5:11 PM

Add ice cream to the growing list of free food being offered to those that get vaccinated against Covid-19.

Unilever is giving away free popsicles and Klondike shakes to health care workers and people getting vaccinated at several vaccination sites across the United States on Friday. The company which owns the brands, said the sweet treats will be available at select locations in New York, Los Angeles, St. Louis, Memphis, Dallas-Fort Worth and Phoenix for one day only.

"There is still work to be done for pandemic recovery and addressing vaccine hesitancy is one piece of that," said Russel Lilly, vice president for Unilever's US ice cream unit, in a release. "Getting vaccinated is a personal milestone for many that calls for a sweet celebration and we couldn't think of a better way to do that than with ice cream."

Vaccine hesitancy is increasingly becoming a major problem in this country. In a Kaiser Family Foundation survey, 47% of people who say they want to "wait and see" before being vaccinated said paid time off to get it would make them more likely to do so, and 39% said a financial incentive of $200 from their employer would work.

The US vaccination rate has declined from its peak last month, pushing officials to offer new incentives, known as carrots, to further encourage the wary, hesitant and inaccessible to get vaccinated. So far, more than 150 million people in the US have received at least one dose of the vaccine.

Major food companies are offering incentives of their own, including Krispy Kreme, which is giving away a free doughnut every day for the rest of the year to customers with a vaccination card. Budweiser, Nathan's Hot Dogs and White Castle are also offering various perks, too.

For Unilever, the Friday event is part of its "Day of Service," which started last year to help out communities affected the most by the pandemic. The company is also donating $25 million in "goods and services towards pandemic relief" this year, including food to partners like Feeding America and promoting vaccine education.

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