GADSDEN, Ala. (WIAT) — The city of Gadsden is offering residents $100 as an incentive to get fully vaccinated from COVID-19 over the next few months.

To qualify, those who are interested in taking part must live in the city limits of Gadsden.

Leaders announced the initiative earlier this week and said it would be paid for with federal funds from the American Rescue Plan.

In addition to the individual incentives, residents will also be entered into a drawing to win a $5,000 prize once 500 people have been vaccinated. There will be two drawings.

“We, like a lot of counties around the state, we are seeing a rise in cases, and while it is currently not at the level that it was previously, it is still something that, as we know from previous experience, we know how bad it can get quickly,” city spokesperson Michael Rodgers said.

Gadsden officials hope the measure will increase the number of people who get vaccinated. If successful, leaders believe it could be used in other cities across the state.

While Rodgers understands it’s a personal decision to get the vaccine, it’s something neighbors should consider.

“I would encourage people to find a trusted source, like the CDC, read the information from the CDC. Talk to your doctor,” Rodgers said.

Health leaders have said Alabama is currently last in the country for fully vaccinated residents. Since infections are often organized by county, it’s difficult for Gadsden to know the exact percentage of fully vaccinated individuals.

“I think the latest numbers I saw, we have about 28-29% of people who are fully vaccinated and then a few more percentage of that, around 33-34% of people who have gotten at least one shot, so even that is low, and that is also for Etowah County. In the city of Gadsden it is a little tougher to tell, just because of how things are reported, but we are still a little below that,” Rodgers said.

To be eligible for the $100 incentive payment, individuals must be residents of Gadsden and will be required to submit a proof of residency, such as tax forms.

The Gadsden-Etowah EMA has partnered with a list of eligible healthcare providers to administer the vaccine.

Residents must bring vaccination records and a completed voucher form to city hall by Oct. 15 for the payment.

Quality of Life Services in east Gadsden is holding a vaccine clinic Friday from 3-5 p.m. at 1411 Piedmont Cutoff Road.

“During the month of June, we have had lower interest than normal, but as of last week we did get a number of new callers in,” said Shaftel Benson with Quality of Life Services.

Quality of Life is one of the several eligible locations Gadsden residents can go to in order to get the shot. Benson believes the money will motivate people to roll up their sleeves.

“This is something new, I think, will draw a lot of attention and interest. Also with the rise of COVID individuals with COVID recently, I think will spark the interest of individuals to come out and get the vaccine,” she said.

While some neighbors have questioned using relief funds on vaccination incentives, city leaders say they still have plenty of money to use for other projects.

The U.S. Department of the Treasury has given cities a list of ways to use the money. Premium pay for first responders and infrastructure are among the items that city leaders could consider.

“$100 per person and then also when we reach 500 vaccinations, there will be 2 drawings out of that pool for $5,000 each. And so, even when you consider that money, that is still a very small percentage compared to the $24 million we have gotten,” Rodgers said.

According to city leaders, people who have previously been vaccinated are not eligible for the money.

Below are a list of eligible providers from the EMA:

  • Etowah County Health Department on East Broad Street in Gadsden
  • Quality of Life Services on Hwy 278 in Gadsden
  • Corporate Pharmacy Services on Broad Street in Gadsden
  • Alaco Discount Pharmacy on West Main in Glencoe
  • Super Bee Pharmacy on Rainbow Drive in Rainbow City
  • Winn Dixie Pharmacy on Rainbow Drive in Rainbow City
  • Rick’s Pharmacy on Hwy 77 in Attalla
  • Gadsden City Pharmacy on Rainbow Dr in Gadsden
  • Physicians Apothecary on Forrest Ave in Gadsden
  • Riverside Pharmacy on South 1st in Gadsden
  • Jerry’s Pharmacy on Wall Street in Gadsden
  • Walgreens Pharmacy on Rainbow Drive in Rainbow City
  • Walgreens Pharmacy on Meighan in Gadsden