City leaders look at future of vaccination incentive program

Published: Dec. 6, 2021 at 5:45 PM EST
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - If you live in Richmond County and still want to claim your $100 vaccine incentive, we’re learning you can no longer do that at the Richmond County Health Department.

Augusta city leaders say it’s because they’ve maxed out the number of gift cards allocated for that location.

Overwhelmingly the agency was the main stop for the incentive. Even though they’re cleaned out three other clinics still have cards available. Christ Community Health says they have around 1,200 left and most people walking through the door for a shot are there because of the incentive.

Five months and more than 3,000 gift cards later – Vax Up Augusta might be nearing its end.

“It also showed that it takes a variety of motivational tools to get the public to respond to what’s needed at times,” said Augusta Commissioner Dennis Williams, District 2.

On Friday, the city announced the Health Department emptied their supply of 3,300 $100 gift cards. Meaning they have no incentive left to give for a shot.

“It shows progress,” said Williams.

Now only three sites have gift cards left.

“There’s been some chatter out there about expanding the program and I’m not in favor of that just by looking at what these numbers represent,” said Commissioner Brandon Garrett, District 8.

At the start of the program, Richmond County had a fully vaccinated rate of 34 percent. Right now we’re at 40 percent.

“To me, the money just doesn’t seem like it really pushed the envelop all that much,” said Garrett.

“We’re not as bad as we was,” said Williams.

The Health Department was allocated the most cards. Now that they’re out they’re directing people to the other three sites that haven’t been as popular. Christ Community Health has given 219 gift cards. They’re averaging about seven first and second doses a day.

Is it even a possibility to take some of those cards from the other sites and move to the Department of Health?

“You know, that’s definitely an option, that’s actually not a bad idea. I kind of like that,” said Garrett.

As far as investing more money – even initial supporters of the program say ‘no way.’

“I don’t think society needs to start providing incentives to people to do what’s right and what’s for their better good,” said Williams.

Tuesday the city administrator will present the most up-to-date numbers on the Vax Up Augusta program during the commission meeting and they’ll discuss the next steps.

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