AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – Augusta’s COVID vaccination incentive program is undergoing a major change. In August, commissioners approved providing a $100 gift card for county residents who get fully vaccinated. Now the city says if you get your first shot, you get paid.
The city allocated more than $1.2 million for the incentive plan called VaxUp Augusta! But Mayor Hardie Davis says we need to do more. He wants people to be compensated for getting even one shot.
“We’ve been giving out incentive cards. But today, I am effective immediately calling on the commission to provide $100 incentive to anyone who comes and gets a shot. If we’re going to move the needle, we’re going to have to provide an incentive for people to want to come out,” Augusta Mayor Hardie Davis said during a press conference Tuesday.
Commissioner Catherine Smith-McKnight (District 3) says she has always supported getting people vaccinated, but has not supported a payment incentive in the past. Today she voted yes.
“I was the one that didn’t believe in all the incentives, but they are having something this weekend and we do want to get people vaccinated,” Commissioner Smith-McKnight said.
The Mayor wants the amended incentive plan approved before this weekend’s clinic.
“It’s time for us, on this weekend, to have the largest turnout that we’ve had of individuals that need to be vaccinated,” Mayor Davis said.
Mayor Davis says existing funds from VaxUp Augusta! will cover the cost.
The commission voted Tuesday to approve the amendment, excluding payment for the booster shot.
Commissioner Brandon Garrett (District 8) is the only commissioner who voted no.
“When we put that whole program in place, it had specific stipulations. The payment was only due on the second shot, so I think there may be a lot of confusion if we do it this way,” Commissioner Garrett said.
The amendment goes into effect Saturday. The vaccine clinic is at the James Brown Arena from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.