Vaccine incentives graphic

On Sept. 1, the Pat Walker Health Center began weekly prize drawings for vaccinated students, but some students question whether university incentives will increase vaccination rates.

The prizes for the raffle range from $500 scholarships to Razorback Football tickets and more, according to PWHC. To enter the raffle, students can fill out an application form on the health center’s website, regardless of when they got the vaccine. Over 13,600 students had entered the lottery as of Monday, said Mark Rushing, associate vice chancellor of university relations

As of Tuesday, approximately 43.8% of Arkansans had been fully immunized against COVID-19, compared to 53.9% of the total U.S. population, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Approximately 54.6% of the Arkansas population had received at least one dose, compared to 63.2% of the U.S. population.

ASG President Coleman Warren, a senior, said UA officials can only record the number of vaccinated students who are from Arkansas, which makes it difficult to to grasp the true vaccination rate.

Gabriel Gross, a freshman, said if the university does not end up mandating the vaccine, he thinks a raffle is a good way to motivate a substantial number of students and faculty members to get the vaccine.

“I mean I already was (vaccinated) and then this happened,” Gross said. “So I signed up for it.”

Vanessa Herrmann, a senior, said she thinks the raffle is a good thing for university officials to work to bring attention to. She is vaccinated herself, but she does not know if drawings are the correct route for the UA to take to raise the vaccination rate.

“I think it could be an effective thing,” Herrmann said. “But I feel like for some people it wouldn’t change their mind on whether or not they want to get the vaccine.”

Aidan Ross, a freshman, shared similar sentiments, saying he thinks the raffle is a good idea, but does not think it will motivate many people to get vaccinated.

“Personally, I couldn’t see a substantial number of people (being swayed), because I know I wouldn’t get vaccinated just so I could enter a raffle,” Ross said. “But there is definitely a type of (person) that it’s pursuing that I think would be interested in that. Not that many I think, but a good number.”

Warren said while universities in Arkansas cannot mandate a vaccine, he thinks incentives like the raffle are important to show that UA officials are supportive of students getting vaccinated. He thinks it is a good way to reach students who might need a little push to get the vaccine, but necessarily the percentage who are outright opposed to the vaccine, he said.

“I would hope, and I really don’t have any data to back this up, but I would think that would apply some pressure to a student that is maybe, not necessarily, vaccine hesitant,” Warren said. “Because I would think that for some vaccine hesitant (students) that it's going to take something like FDA approval for it to convince them, which we do have FDA approval, but anyway. I would say it’s for students that maybe feel like, ‘Ah I don't know, I'll get around to it,’ (but) they never do.”

Herrmann said she thinks rapidly spreading misinformation about the vaccine has made the decision of whether or not to get vaccinated a difficult one for some students.

“I think the media has been affecting a lot of students’ decisions on the vaccine,” Herrmann said. “So I feel like if there was like university-based research, even if it's from, like, other universities, I feel like that would help.”

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