Minnesota Sports Teams Roll Out Fan Vaccination Programs
Last season, the Twins played just 30 home games — none in front of fans. Jordan Johnson/MLB Photos

Minnesota Sports Teams Roll Out Fan Vaccination Programs

The Minnesota Twins and the St. Paul Saints are among the latest Minnesota teams to offer fans incentives to get Covid-19 vaccinations.

Haven’t gotten your shot yet? You may be able to get one at an upcoming sporting event. The demand for Covid-19 vaccinations has waned in recent weeks, but state leaders are banking on a new program to incentivize the process.

On Thursday, Gov. Tim Walz announced a number of vaccination opportunities at a few games in the near future. That includes the Minnesota Twins’ home series against the Baltimore Orioles May 24-26. Fans who decide to take the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine at Target Field will get a voucher for a free game.

It’s the first time the Twins has offered on-site Covid vaccinations. The team doesn’t yet have any other inoculation opportunities planned this summer, but that could change.

“If we find there is interest and demand, we will certainly schedule more of these on-site clinics moving forward,” spokesman Matt Hodson said in an email.

Meanwhile, the Minnesota Wild will offer Johnson & Johnson vaccines at a game at the Xcel Energy Center on Saturday, and the Lynx are planning on-site vaccinations at a June 12 game at Target Center. Minnesota United also will offer vaccinations at a June 23 game at Allianz Field.

This all follows a similar on-site vaccination program at the St. Paul Saints’ home opener earlier this month, marking the team’s first time playing as an AAA affiliate of the Minnesota Twins. At that game, fans who decided to get the shot also got four ticket vouchers for future games this season.

As of Wednesday, 63 percent of the Minnesotans aged 16 or older had received at least one shot of a Covid-19 vaccine, according to the state’s vaccination dashboard. Walz’s goal has been to hit the 70 percent mark. Prior to the CDC’s recent announcement to roll back mask requirements for inoculated Americans, the governor originally said he wouldn’t remove the state’s own mask mandate until more than 70 percent of Minnesotans were vaccinated.

“We are always looking for creative ways to get vaccines directly to Minnesotans,” Walz said in a news release on Thursday.

The governor formally kicked off his latest vaccination drive at an event at Mall of America earlier this week.

Whether they’re spearheaded by the governor or private businesses, more vaccination incentives are likely to pop up throughout the summer. Omni Brewing in Maple Grove, for instance, is offering free beer to customers who show a vaccination card.

There have been several similar efforts across the country. Maryland, New York, and Ohio have all set up lotteries to help incentivize vaccinations.

To be sure, free beers and ball games may not be enough to win over every vaccine-hesitant Minnesotan. But researchers say those incentives may convince some.

“What we know from behavioral science is that people respond to little nudges in their behavior to kind of push the dial one way or the other,” Beth Thielen, an infectious disease researcher at the University of Minnesota Medical School, recently told Kare-11.