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Denver jail vaccinations increase with noodle and coffee incentive, sheriff's department says

People in custody at the downtown jail are being offered Ramen noodles and coffee in exchange for getting the shot.
Credit: Denver Sheriff Department

DENVER — An initiative to get more Denver jail inmates vaccinated against COVID-19 with the promise of free Ramen noodles and coffee appears to be working.

According to the Denver Sheriff Department (DSD), 351 doses of either the Moderna or Johnson & Johnson vaccine were administered at the downtown detention center over the first 11 days of the program.

That works out to about 32 doses per day. To put that in context, roughly eight doses per day were given out over the eight months before the program began.

A spokesperson characterized the incentive program as "highly successful" and said they plan to expand it to the county jail soon.

The program offers 10 Ramen noodle soups or a combination of one coffee and five Ramen noodle soups for each dose an inmate receives. Those who have already been vaccinated while in DSD custody are given the same offer.

DSD said the noodles and coffee are commissary items, which are offered in addition to the three meals a day provided to inmates. 

“In jails across America, vaccine incentive programs for individuals in custody are working and we decided to move forward with implementing one as well,” Sheriff Elias Diggins said in a release when the program was first announced. “We will evaluate the program monthly and hope that it will make a difference as we all continue to combat COVID.”

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