Inside Muchachos building in Downtown Lincoln.
Muchacho's Owner Nick Maestas offered a vaccine incentive via Twitter to customers. Photo by Cody Frederick/NNS.

A few local businesses are offering customer incentives to raise awareness for the COVID-19 vaccine. Muchachos in downtown Lincoln is one of those restaurants. Muchachos Owner Nick Maestas announced Aug. 24 that he would offer a free burrito to anyone who became fully vaccinated between then and Oct. 1.

“Really, I just wanted to find a way to incentivize it. More than anything, I just want to do my part to end this thing. If that means us getting people vaccinated and giving up some profit to do so, then so be it. If we can all move a little closer to the end than we are now, I was willing to do that,” Maestas said.

Muchachos hasn’t had many people come in and receive their free burrito yet since they just started the promotion last week. Unless someone receives the Johnson and Johnson vaccine, they would have to wait three weeks to get both their first and second shot.

“I’m hoping that in the middle of September, we’ll be giving away some burritos,” Maestas said.

Maestas tweeted from his own Twitter account on Sept. 9 that Muchachos gave a way one of its first free vaccine burritos during the lunch hour.

Krispy Kreme is also offering a vaccine incentive through the end of the year. It’s giving customers who show a COVID-19 vaccination card with at least one shot since March 22 a free original glazed donut. From Aug. 25 to Sept. 5, Krispy Kreme doubled its reward for people getting vaccinated and started giving away a heart-shaped donut along with the original glazed donut as a part of their “Show Your Heart” campaign.

Hy-Vee’s across the country are also offering a vaccination incentive by giving a $10 gift card to anyone who gets their COVID-19 vaccine at a Hy-Vee pharmacy or pop-up Hy-Vee vaccination clinic between June 1 and Nov. 1. If someone had their first shot of the vaccine elsewhere, they must get their second shot at Hy-Vee to take advantage of the gift card.

IMG 1021 scaled e1631215278948 - How people are getting incentives for COVID-19 vaccine
Hy-Vee pharmacies are offering gift cards for people who get the COVID-19 vaccine. Photo by Cody Frederick/NNS.

“After the completion of your shot, first or second dose, you get the $10 gift card,” said Reid Williams, a pharmacy tech from the Hy-Vee on North 27th Street in Lincoln. “Once that started, we saw anywhere from 25 to 125 people coming in. That was just appointments and didn’t include walk-ins. I would say, on average, we have about 50 appointments per day.”

Williams said some people view the COVID-19 vaccine as a political issue, but he hasn’t had any complaints from customers because they do their own vaccine research before coming in. 

Maestas said ending a pandemic shouldn’t be something that divides people politically.

“I’m not trying to make this a left versus right thing. Regardless of it all, wherever you land on the political spectrum, I really just want this to end. If our public health official says this is the way we can do it, I want to do whatever I can to put a stop to it,” he said.

Cody Frederick is a fifth-year student majoring in sports media, journalism and broadcasting while minoring in business administration and horticulture at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He is from a small town in Northeast Nebraska called Winside.