JACKSONVILLE, Ala. (WIAT) — College and city leaders in one east Alabama town hope new incentives will encourage an increase in vaccinations.
The Jacksonville City Council recently approved using federal funds to offer money to city employees who get fully vaccinated by the end of September. The measure passed 3-2.
Full-time employees are eligible for a $200 payment and part-time employees can receive a $100 payment.
“I don’t know if I could put my head down at night if we didn’t try something to encourage people,” Jacksonville City Councilman Terry Wilson said.
City Council President Tony Taylor said that while he does not agree with the incentives, he hopes the money will motivate people to consider getting vaccinated.
“I don’t really agree with incentivizing something like this, but now that it has been passed, I hope it will help those maybe make up their minds,” Taylor said. “I myself struggled with it until my father is having health issues and I needed to be more one on one with him, so I felt like it was needed for me to get vaccinated.”
With over 100 city employees, Taylor said it was important to minimize illness to ensure there is no interruption in services provided to residents.
“Your public works, and fire, and police that deal with the public, so it is not only a safety concern for the employees and the other employees that work side by side, but you could possibly be an issue for those that we come into contact with in the public,” he said.
The Jacksonville City Council also approved up to 80 hours in medical leave for employees who were diagnosed with the virus.
Taylor said in order to be eligible for the payment, city employees must get vaccinated by the end of September and submit proof to the city.
Incentives at Jacksonville State University
With hospitalizations rising in nearby Anniston, leaders are also concerned about the influx of thousands of students who will begin classes at Jacksonville State University soon.
Jacksonville State University campus leaders also approved an incentive program to encourage students and faculty to get the vaccine. Federal funds will be used to provide the incentives, which include a $100 Walmart gift card for JSU students and staff who are already fully vaccinated or those who get vaccinated through mid-October.
In an effort to increase newly vaccinated students, JSU will have a drawing for a $1,000 gift card for those who receive the first shot between July 15 and Oct. 15.
According to JSU, a total of four gift cards will be awarded: one to an active faculty member, one to an active staff member, and two to students registered for fall classes.
City leaders like Wilson were glad to hear about the initiative.
“If you’ve got people coming in from all over the state and Georgia and everything else, if they haven’t been vaccinated, maybe this will be a good reason they will get it to help protect the citizens of Jacksonville,” Wilson said.
CBS 42 asked students if the incentives would motivate them to get the vaccine. While some said they remained hesitant, others hoped it would encourage students to get the shot.
“I would think it would just because of the fact that money is involved but for me, even if money wasn’t involved, I would be curious and inquire about it because I think being vaccinated is important but I do think this would help people start thinking about it,” said Joi Wells, a second year student from Georgia.
Wells is not vaccinated because of health reasons, but plans to be inoculated soon.
“They told me to wait to be vaccinated because they don’t know how that is going to conflict with all that I have going on, but I have been cleared to be vaccinated now,” said Wells.
More details about the JSU incentive can be found here.