University of Georgia offers $1,000 prizes to get COVID-19 vaccine

New residents of the Lipscomb dormitory exit the building past a sign advising persons experiencing COVID-19 symptoms not to enter on Monday, Aug. 16, 2021 on the University of Georgia's Campus in Athens, Georgia. The University does not have a mask or vaccine mandate, and is not requiring testing. (Julian Alexander for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
Caption
New residents of the Lipscomb dormitory exit the building past a sign advising persons experiencing COVID-19 symptoms not to enter on Monday, Aug. 16, 2021 on the University of Georgia's Campus in Athens, Georgia. The University does not have a mask or vaccine mandate, and is not requiring testing. (Julian Alexander for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Credit: Julian Alexander

Credit: Julian Alexander

The University of Georgia is sweetening the pot to encourage people on campus to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

Starting Sept. 1, any current student, faculty member or employee who has been fully vaccinated, either on or off campus, can submit their names to be in one of three drawings to win a cash prize of $1,000. A total of 100 prizes will be awarded. The drawings will be held on Sept. 15, Sept. 30 and Oct. 15.

UGA previously offered $20 gift cards and t-shirts and then offered $100 gift cards as prizes for vaccinations. Administrators have pleaded with students through social media and email in recent weeks to get the vaccine before classes began on Aug. 18.

“At the University of Georgia, we are serious about urging our students, faculty and staff to be vaccinated, as vaccinations provide our community’s best protection against COVID-19,” said President Jere W. Morehead said in a statement. “The FDA formally approved the Pfizer vaccine yesterday, and I hope those who may have been hesitant about getting the vaccine will now feel confident in doing so. I am very pleased that this newest incentive program will be retroactive, allowing any current member of our faculty, staff or student body who has been fully vaccinated in the past to participate. I hope it will be a great motivator to those who have not yet been vaccinated.”

UGA does not require students, faculty and employees to get vaccinated to be on campus, following University System of Georgia guidelines. Many faculty members have urged the university to mandate vaccinations or masks in classrooms and other spaces on campus.

As of last week, UGA fully vaccinated more than 13,000 people and administered about 24,000 vaccines. The university had about 50,000 students, faculty members and employees on campus last year.

There is some fine print regarding the drawings. Senior administrators are ineligible and employee awards must be taxed through payroll. UGA said student awards will not interfere with other assistance being received.

Some colleges and universities in other states have offered cash prizes or computers to students to get the vaccine.

Senior administrators are the only group not eligible, and employees’ awards must be taxed appropriately through payroll. Student awards will be processed through Student Financial Aid and will not interfere with other assistance being received.

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