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Vaccine incentive program comes to a close with almost $1,000,000 disbursed in prizes


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The university’s vaccine incentive program, which started on July 18 and is set to end on Sept. 10, has given around $985,000 in prizes to participating students and staff.

These prizes included financial awards of up to $1,000, gift cards to Barnes and Noble and parking passes for the Highland Street Parking Garage and Eagle lots. In the final week of prizes, 20 $4,000 student financial awards were granted alongside 10 $1,000 B&N gift cards.

The voluntary program was started after campus vaccinations numbers began to slow down and COVID-19 infections rates were rising once again in North Texas, said Melissa McGuire, associate vice president for Student Affairs.

“We want to incentivize faculty, staff and students to get the vaccination because we know it’s the way out of this pandemic,” McGuire said. “Although vaccinated individuals can still get COVID, it’s an extremely low probability they will become hospitalized or die from the virus. On Aug. 31, 12,783 students, faculty, and staff have uploaded a vaccination record.”

This number equals about 31 percent of the total campus population, which was recorded at 40,796 for the 2020-2021 school year. Despite the thousands of participants, McGuire said the program experienced a slow start.

“Up until Aug. 13, we had approximately 4,000 entries,” McGuire said. “We saw a significant increase in everyone uploading their vaccination record on Friday, Aug. 13, the day the message went out about mandatory testing. We believe the increase was because students were in summer mode and not checking their UNT emails.”

While the incentive program experienced increased engagement, the Student Health and Wellness center did not see a notable increase in vaccinations throughout the duration of the program, Assistant Director of the Meadows Center for Health Resources Kerry Stanhope said.

“From March 24 through July 18, 2021, the UNT Student Health and Wellness Center gave 5,226 COVID vaccinations,” Stanhope said. “From July 19 through Aug. 27, 2021, the UNT Student Health and Wellness Center gave 232 COVID vaccinations.”

Media arts freshman Nickolas Lozano was one of the students who received their vaccine before the incentive program started.

Lozano first heard about the vaccine incentive program through Reddit and signed up for the program on July 30. Out of all the vaccinated people Lozano knew, no one had gotten vaccinated because of the vaccination incentive program. However, several of Lozano’s friends received prizes.

About 18 percent of the students and staff who signed up for the program received a reward, McGuire said. Every participant received one Dining Services meal voucher.

“To date, we have awarded 2,319 prizes to students, faculty, and staff, although we have found a handful to not being enrolled or employed this fall, which makes them ineligible,” McGuire said.

McGuire said university administration is still having talks on whether the program will return in the spring semester.

“I think we’ll have to look at all the data we have once Sept. 10 hits to see where we go from here,” McGuire said. “We’ll have to consider what we’ve seen on our campus, what’s happening in Denton, our county, the state, etc.”

Featured Illustration by J. Robynn Aviles

Article Originally Published by Daniel Herrera on North Texas Daily

Source: North Texas Daily

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