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Alabama launches vaccine incentive aimed at football fans

The Alabama Department of Public Health introduced a COVID-19 vaccine initiative Thursday tied...
The Alabama Department of Public Health introduced a COVID-19 vaccine initiative Thursday tied to the state's love of college football.(Source: Auburn University)
Published: Sep. 1, 2021 at 1:52 PM CDT|Updated: Sep. 2, 2021 at 12:38 PM CDT
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - Hoping to spur more people to roll up their sleeves and get their first COVID-19 vaccination shot, officials with the Alabama Department of Public Health are turning to a phenomenon that unifies nearly every Alabamian: A love of college football.

On Thursday, Alabama State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris and Gene Hallman, the president and CEO of Bruno Event Team, rolled out details on a plan to offer incentives during college football game weekends around the state.

“College football is such an important part of everyone’s life. And college football weekends are, you know, just the biggest weekend of the year, I think we have a really good opportunity here to make this a very successful program,” Harris said.

One home game at each of 13 universities will be highlighted between Sept. 16 and Oct. 9. Vaccines will be provided that weekend and in exchange fans will be given a $75 gift card to the bookstore at the university.

The program provides a 14-day window prior to a game for a person to get their first dose and to show proof of their vaccination. The initiative also involves the launch of a website, kickcovid19.com.

The incentives will be offered at 13 universities including:

  • The University of West Alabama - Sept. 16
  • Jacksonville State University - Sept. 18
  • The University of South Alabama - Sept. 18
  • The University of Alabama - Sept. 25
  • Auburn University - Sept. 25
  • Alabama State University - Sept. 25
  • Samford University - Sept. 25
  • Miles College - Sept. 25
  • Tuskegee University - Oct. 2
  • The University of North Alabama - Oct. 2
  • The University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) - Oct. 2
  • Alabama A&M University - Oct. 9
  • Troy University - Oct. 9

Well-known student athletes at each university have been recruited to join the campaign, which is Alabama’s first vaccine incentive program. Will Anderson, John Metchie, Will Richard, and Slade Bolden will represent the University of Alabama. From Auburn will be Bo Nix, Owen Pappoe, and Andreas Carlson. Alabama A&M’s players represented will be Aqeel Glass, and from Samford, Michael Vice.

“Using college football as a platform there players especially speaking from their heart, and a very authentic voice of please get your vaccination,” said Gene Hallman, the president and CEO of Bruno Event Team, the organization partnering with ADPH.

Organizers confirmed the student athletes will receive name, image, likeness compensation for their efforts though the amounts are said to vary by person and are considered “nominal.” The money is coming from different funding streams, including federal grants, according to Harris.

While more than 1.74 million Alabamians are fully vaccinated, and vaccination rates are improving, Harris says the state still lags behind the rest of the country.

On Wednesday, the Alabama Hospital Association reported 2,880 patients being treated in hospitals statewide. Of those, 52 are children. The state also reported a deficit of 92 ICU beds.

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