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Birmingham city council delays vote on vaccine sweepstakes

Updated: Jun. 8, 2021 at 8:56 PM CDT
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - It looks like there will not be a vote on a $13 million sweepstakes plan for vaccinations this week by the Birmingham City Council.

Council President William Parker is pushing the plan to increase the number of people getting the vaccine in Birmingham.

Councilman Parker is not giving up on the idea on the incentive plan and he still has hopes it can help Birmingham reach President Biden’s goal of 70% vaccinated with at least one shot by July 4, even though Birmingham and the state are a long way from that goal.

Parker is still convinced the $13 million sweepstakes will get more people willing to get COVID-19 vaccine shots.

“We are working through the process. This is not a sprint, but a marathon,” Parker said.

Parker said other members of the council have different ideas about how to use some of the $141 million from the American Rescue Plan.

“There are other priorities we certainly support. Attacking violence in our community, as well as other initiatives,” Parker said.

Mayor Randall Woodfin is not ready to support the plan just yet. “I guess we will have to talk to the legal department to find out,” Woodfin said.

Alabama State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris says the state will not be pushing any incentive program, but he believes incentives can work.

“Some incentives are great. We have to be careful about any sort of state-sponsored state lottery. Lotteries of any kind are not on the books right now,” Harris said.

Harris said groups have to be careful how they setup the sweepstakes. He believed larger dollar sweepstakes can get more people to get shots, which is something the state wants to see.

Former federal judge and Samford Law School Professor John Carroll has said this type of sweepstakes is legal because it doesn’t require anyone to pay to compete, just get a shot.

Parker said he is working on getting a consensus. The council president said other plans are also in the works to increase the numbers of people getting vaccinations in Birmingham.

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