City scratches vax incentive designs

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Statesboro city officials are dropping the idea of ​​sweepstakes as COVID-19 vaccination incentives for now and instead focus on using the $ 50 gift card offer already on hand as rewards in an ongoing series of immunization clinics.

The next free vaccination opportunity, with gift cards available, will be this Tuesday, September 28, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at City Hall, 50 East Main Street. It is open to people 12 years of age and over, 12-17 year olds must be accompanied by a parent or guardian who will give the authorization for vaccination.

Then two more vaccination clinics, with city-purchased gift cards potentially available, are scheduled for October 9, a Saturday, at Luetta Moore Park, and October 23, also a Saturday, at City Hall. . City officials said the Bulloch County Health Department has agreed to help them.

“I know we are all tired of COVID, but COVID doesn’t get tired,” Mayor Jonathan McCollar said Tuesday evening. “COVID is still very serious. If you didn’t get the hit, get the hit. It’s certain. There are a lot of myths, rumors and lies about vaccination. Get vaccinated; it saves lives.

Hospitals in the region have reported that about 95% of people recently hospitalized with COVID-19 are not vaccinated, he noted.

“Ninety-five percent, and we still have a huge death toll,” McCollar said.

He called on the residents of Statesboro “to stand by Brooklet” who had just lost a police officer, a young woman, to the coronavirus and noted that Statesboro recently lost a firefighter. McCollar also noted that the mayor of Riceboro, Ga. – Mayor Joseph Harris – died from COVID-19 that morning.

Change incentives

McCollar made the remarks at this week’s city council meeting, where the city manager announced the scaled-down approach to public incentives for vaccination. This required no action on the part of the council, which in effect voted to take no action.

But the council has taken unanimous action to make larger vaccination rewards available to the city’s own government employees. The move adds at least $ 250 to the vacation bonus check for every employee who shows proof of vaccination and will raise it to $ 500 if the goal of vaccinating at least 80% of the city’s workforce is reached by November 15.

For vaccination incentives for the general public, city staff members presented a raffle proposal in August, with cash prizes of up to $ 5,000 for adults and expensive electronic equipment such than laptops and teenage game consoles. Next, legal advisers from the Georgia Municipal Association, or GMA, informed Statesboro officials that the city couldn’t legally hold a raffle, but could instead provide funding to a nonprofit charity for the to do.

On Tuesday evening, City Manager Charles Penny and City Attorney Cain Smith were to come up with a deal with a non-profit company that would host the designs.

But meanwhile, the first two city-sponsored immunization clinics had failed to meet the targets implied by the number of $ 50 gift cards the council had approved for purchase. After the council funded 200 of these cards for a vaccination clinic held on September 1 at city hall, 68 people were vaccinated and received gift cards that day.

The board then approved funding to replace those 68 cards and add 100 more, so that 300 cards were available for a clinic held last Saturday at Luetta Moore Park. This time, with the help of the Bulloch County Health Department, Statesboro Kiwanis Club, Squashing the Spread Bulloch, and Bulloch County NAACP, 87 people were vaccinated and given gift cards.

Thus, at this stage, 155 people in total have been vaccinated and received the gift cards issued by the bank. That leaves 213 maps available, after the city spent $ 18,400 of its federal American Relief Plan Act money on maps.

Limited results

“Based on the experience we’ve had, the incentives really haven’t moved a lot,” Penny told the board, “and I was on appeal with GMA today, and that seems to be the indication across the state that the incentives are getting people vaccinated, but not at the rate we’d like to see. “

The city’s efforts had not shifted the needle in tracking Bulloch County’s vaccination rate by the Georgia Department of Public Health, he reported. On Friday, the DPH’s online dashboard showed that 32% of Bulloch County residents had been fully vaccinated, compared to 47% of people statewide.

“I would recommend that the board continue to allow us to give away the gift cards because it displaces some people,” Penny said. But he added that unless the result was a minimum of 1,000 people vaccinated, he didn’t think the raffles would be worth the extra cost.

As of Saturday, only 15 to 20 of those vaccinated were in the 12 to 17 age range, and according to the original proposal, the city would have spent $ 3,000 on prize items, such as laptops, for them. teenagers, he said.

“I would love to give away 300 gift cards, and that was hope on Saturday when we gave away 87, and we’re happy with those 87,” Penny said. “On September 28th, I would like to donate the balance of these gift cards, but I just don’t see it at the moment.”

Tuesday’s agenda contained a draft agreement for an as yet unidentified non-profit charity to run the raffles on behalf of the city, for a fee. But on a motion from District 4 Councilor John Riggs, seconded by District 2 Councilor Paulette Chavers, council voted 4-0 to take no action on the deal.

Tuesday clinic

A notice posted on the city’s Facebook page says the first 200 people online and vaccinated at the 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. clinic Tuesday will receive $ 50 gift cards. But as Penny indicated, officials would be surprised at such a turnout and plan to transfer the remaining cards to future immunization clinics.

The city could also send employees to distribute gift cards at immunization events hosted by other organizations, he said.

He said the Health Department will bring the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines – both of which are two-dose vaccines requiring a second injection at a later date – to the clinic on Tuesday at City Hall. The Pfizer vaccine is the one approved for young people aged 12 to 17.

The single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine was not promised, at this point, for this clinic.


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