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Vaccine incentive draws hundreds: ‘We were not expecting this’

Published: Sep. 8, 2021 at 7:45 PM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - Wednesday was day one of Vax Up Augusta, the city’s new program offering you $100 to get vaccinated against COVID if you live in Richmond County.

A citywide vaccine clinic held at the May Park Community Center. City leaders say their goal is to get 10,000 people vaccinated.

The question this whole time has been: Will this incentive work?

The turnout Wednesday shows that it might.

There was a line outside the door, and even the rain didn’t stop people from coming in and getting a shot.

Charts were rolling, sleeves were rising, and some people left $100 richer.

“I’ve never had $100 before,” said 12-year-old Braydence Jones.

Jones was one of the hundreds of people who got vaccinated at the launch of Vax Up Augusta. And because she got her second dose, she received $100.

“I really felt more safe and protected than I was” she said.

“I really think the incentive is working, and we’re so excited to see that,” said Rebecca Kersner, health district nursing and clinical director.

Richmond County’s vaccination rate is still below 40 percent, but recently health care experts say they’ve seen a small uptick. During the first week in August, Augusta University Health completed 20 first dose vaccinations. The week of Aug. 22nd-28, they completed 486 doses. And 162 doses the following week. Not including Johnson & Johnson vaccine shots.

“We were not expecting this turnout” she said.

They’re hoping this incentive keeps the trend going upwards by reaching those who are hesitant.

“It took me a while to really wrap my head around it but after I really understood what it was all about and definitely with the support of my sister and my family and friends, I definitely got it done with my two kids today,” said Athena Robinson, who received the first dose.

“I’ve had a lot of people in my family get COVID one of my step sisters passed away, so I wanted to go ahead and prepare myself,” said Cecil Harris Jr., who received the first dose.

But, it wasn’t all about the money.

“Having this shot is just going to keep me healthy and keep the people around me healthy,” said Robinson.

“If they gonna give me $100 that’s a bonus,” said Harris.

The next event will be on Oct. 8.

Residents who became fully vaccinated between Aug. 19 and Sept. 7 through the department, including its mobile units, can pick up their cards beginning Sept. 13 at 2420 Windsor Spring Road between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m.

People are fully vaccinated if they get two doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines. The one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine is not available through the department. Cards won’t be distributed to people getting their second dose from another provider or to people getting a booster shot.

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