Campus News Health & Wellness

UGA wraps up vaccine incentive program

Registered professional nurse Leah Weaver administers a COVID-19 booster vaccine to veterinary teaching hospital resident Katie Carignan. (Photo by Dorothy Kozlowski/UGA)

Supported by federal funds, incentive program encourages, rewards vaccination

A total of 100 University of Georgia students, faculty and staff received $1,000 in cash each over the last month as part of the university’s COVID-19 vaccine incentive program aimed at encouraging members of the university community to protect themselves and those around them, and reward those who were already vaccinated.

On Oct. 15, the university drew the final 25 names in its vaccine drawing, selecting the last of the cash prize winners. The $100,000 incentive program was supported by the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund III. The first 50 names were selected Sept. 15 and another 25 names were selected Sept. 30. More than 24,000 entries were submitted for the drawing, which was conducted by UGA’s Office of Institutional Research with results verified by Internal Audit.

Registered nurse Ginn Holder gives graduate student Michael Harvey his COVID-19 vaccine at the University Health Center. (Photo by Andrew Davis Tucker/UGA)

“We’ve been so pleased with the UGA community’s continued use of our health center’s robust facilities for vaccinations, and the incentive program helped encourage even more in our community to be vaccinated,” said Jen Swails, interim executive director of the University Health Center and co-chair of the University’s Medical Oversight Task Force. “The vaccine continues to be one of the strongest forms of protection against the COVID-19 virus, and the recent authorizations from the FDA regarding booster shots lead the way to provide even more opportunities for students, faculty, staff and the community to fight this pandemic.”

The University Health Center (UHC) continues offering COVID-19 vaccinations free of charge to faculty, staff and students and their dependents over age 16. To date, nearly 27,800 vaccines have been administered to members of the UGA community. The university is also offering incentives for vaccinations, such as $20 gift cards and T-shirts, while supplies last.

Registered nurse Sherry Dove draws up a COVID-19 vaccine at the University Health Center. (Photo by Andrew Davis Tucker/UGA)

The UHC recently began offering booster shots of the Pfizer vaccine to faculty, staff, students and their eligible dependents who had received their second dose at least six months ago. The FDA approved the administration of boosters on Sept. 22.

“I chose to get vaccinated actually after most of my friends and family already had. I wanted to resume life as we knew it before COVID, and I knew the fastest way that was going to be possible was to get vaccinated,” said Elizabeth Madison, a fourth-year UGA student majoring in risk management and insurance. “It feels so great to have won! I’ve never really won anything in my life and I’m constantly entering giveaways and stuff like that. I’m actually going to save the money to buy myself a graduation gift (in May) that I’ve been wanting for years.”

Reports of COVID-19 at UGA remain at low levels, and cases continue to decline in the local community and across the state of Georgia. The UGA community consists of nearly 50,000 students, faculty and staff. UGA is a part of a university system of 26 member institutions and must follow the directives of the University System of Georgia (USG) Board of Regents. The USG does not allow its institutions to enact mask or vaccine mandates, but vaccinations and the wearing of masks indoors are strongly encouraged.