By Zach Solon | June 3, 2021 at 9:45 PM EDT – Updated June 4 at 5:12 AM
NEW HANOVER COUNTY, N.C. (WECT) – North Carolina currently has a pilot program in place to incentivize people to get the COVID-19 vaccine. At select locations in Guilford, Mecklenburg, Rockingham, and Rowan counties, those who choose to get the vaccine between now and June 8 can receive a $25 gift card.
“We think that it’s important, however, to use more incentives,” said North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper.
Cooper says the state is working to examine more ways to incentivize people to get vaccinated after seeing what other states have done. In Ohio, for example, residents can be entered into a weekly lottery to win up to $1 million if they get the vaccine.
While the pilot program has not reached New Hanover County, leaders believe cash incentives could help to put more shots into the arms of younger people.
“We actually spoke to a few young people in our area and asked ‘What are some things that would encourage you to get the vaccine?’,” said Assistant County Manager Tufanna Bradley. “One would be more information to dispel myths, but then also a suggestion was to offer incentives.”
Bradley says cash was the most popular incentive that could be offered based on feedback the county received from those conversations with younger people.
According to the state health department, just under 50 percent of the adult population in New Hanover County has received at least one dose of the vaccine, which is below the goal of herd immunity officials hope to reach.
“You really need to get to 70 to 85 percent to have herd immunity so we’re going to keep chomping at the bit and doing the best that we can to do outreach efforts,” said Bradley.
At UNCW, health officials are committed to getting members of the community vaccinated. The school announced today they are joining a national challenge to help the United States reach the goal of vaccinating 70 percent of adults.
“It’s asking us to do things that UNCW has already been doing so it was an easy decision for us,” said Katrin Wesner-Harts, director of the UNCW Student Health Center.
While UNCW is not offering students and staff cash incentives for getting the vaccine, Wesner-Harts says students who have been vaccinated will not have to undergo return testing or weekly surveillance testing for COVID-19 in the fall.
“Right now, that’s what we’ve planned to do,” said Wesner-Harts, “but the conversation continues so there might be some others as we get closer to fall.”
The county says funding is also a crucial part of providing incentives for those who choose to get vaccinated. Bradley says it may have to be a discussion she has with local leaders if the state does not expand the pilot program.
If you are still looking to get a COVID-19 vaccine, UNCW offers vaccines at the Student Health Center Monday-Thursday from 8:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. and Fridays from 8:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. now through June 21.
New Hanover County provides a list of local vaccine clinics on their website.
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