St. Louis County Councilwoman Shalonda Web has been knocking on doors, encouraging people to get vaccinated for about five weeks now. In a press conference this morning, she said many of those people asked about a long-awaited vaccine incentive program and told her, in layman’s terms, they’ll get their shots when the program begins.
“Now, it’s here,” Webb announced at the conference.
Webb and St. Louis County Executive Sam Page hosted a press conference Wednesday morning to announce the push to further incentivize COVID vaccinations. The program will send out 5,000 gift cards to St. Louis County residents who complete vaccination after September 25 at a county-sponsored event. The gift cards will be mailed to the address provided at the time of vaccination. The gift cards are $100 for groceries and $50 for gas.
The program is funded through federal dollars from the American Rescue Plan. St. Louis County will use $875,000 in order to fund the program. Webb, a Democratic representative for the 4th District, first introduced the legislation to encourage vaccination earlier this summer.
The legislation was approved on June 29 with a 5-2 vote. Councilman Ernie Trakas, R-6th District, and Councilman Mark Harder, R-7th District, were the two members opposed to the bill. Trakas said he wouldn’t vote for the bill because he viewed the word “incentive” as another word for “coercion.”
“I introduced this legislation hoping it would incentivize all our residents. Have a conversation with your doctor and then get vaccinated,” Webb said in the conference.
The councilwoman said the county is trying to ease residents’ hesitations by providing information about the vaccination. She added that it’s essential to acknowledge the hesitation, especially when the reaction is based on historical medical malpractices involving Black Americans. Page emphasized in his remarks that the COVID-19 vaccine is safe and effective.
The gift cards will be available while supplies last. Currently, the county is averaging 1,221 doses a week, according to the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services.
Finding a gift card eligible vaccination site is possible through revivestl.com
, where the vaccination sites are marked as “gift card eligible.” The gift cards, according to Webb, will help residents get the “critical help” they need because of the struggles the pandemic has caused.
“It’s like any other incentive program that is happening locally, state, or at the federal level. You see people respond to incentive,” Webb said. “It’ll be a benefit to all county residents and give them one more reason to consider getting the vaccination.”
As for future incentive programs, Page said he and the county council will watch what happens with this one — and if proven successful, they may introduce more programs down the road. Webb is hopeful that this program will help many residents in the county get vaccinated.
Follow Jenna on Twitter at @writesjenna. Email the author at email@example.com
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