In today’s episode of Well, This Is Weird, But Also Kind Of Interesting, prison officials in Washington state are taking a unique approach to incentivize the incarcerated to get vaccinated—they’re offering them free ramen noodles.
According to Newsweek, the Benton County Corrections Department in Kennewick, Wash., recently began its program called “Soup for Shots,” which offers packets of the food often bought by college freshmen and people who are eating on a budget to inmates who got their first vaccination shot on August 1, and it is now being offered to all inmates in exchange for their consent to getting the shot.
The program has become quite the success, which officials say is due to ramen noodles being among the most popular commissary items, according to the department’s Chief of Corrections Scott Souza, who bosted that, so far, some 900 packets have been distributed to about 90 of the prison’s 360 inmates.
“We’re doing everything we can do to incentivize vaccination and we are getting [an] outstanding response,” Souza said.
So, to get even more inmates on board the vax train, posters were placed around prison walls that read,
“To encourage and support COVID vaccination efforts, the Benton County Department of Corrections will be providing each inmate that starts their vaccination series with 10 FREE RAMEN NOODLE SOUPS!!!”
Since the beginning of the pandemic, report after report after report has indicated that prisons and jails across the country have become COVID hot spots and left the incarcerated particularly vulnerable to infection. So while the “Soup for Shots” program might seem a bit odd—especially to anti-vaxxers who love their platitudes and conspiracy theories like the rest of us love being less exposed to the virus—it is a welcome effort to folks who understand that inmate lives matter too, and wish to see the spread of COVID slowed behind bars just as much as everywhere else.
In fact, now that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has officially approved the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, hopefully, we’ll see more and more people being vaccinated on the inside as well as on the outside.