Following its plan to provide incentives for getting the COVID-19 vaccine rather than requiring it, Penn State announced on Tuesday that it will have weekly prize drawings for students and employees who provide proof that they got their shots.
Beginning June 7 and continuing through Aug. 23, those who submit their vaccination status and complete an online form will be entered for the drawings each week for a $1,000 payment, $100 Barnes & Noble gift card (four winners each week) and a football signed by Penn State football coach James Franklin.
All students and employees at all campuses who have already received the vaccine or who receive it in the future are eligible.
Students at University Park, Commonwealth Campuses and Dickinson Law can upload their vaccination records through myUHS. Beginning Wednesday, World Campus students and employees can do so through SalesForce Health Cloud.
Fully vaccinated students may also be exempt from some health and safety protocols, such as testing and quarantine.
Separately, Kirk French, teaching professor of anthropology, has worked with State College businesses to provide gift cards for textbooks, merchandise, bars and restaurants as incentives for students to get vaccinated.
French said that those agreements will be turned over to the university for use in their drawings.
In a video released on Tuesday and featuring other faculty, students, community members and James Franklin, French encouraged vaccinations and challenged the university “to up the ante” by adding tuition waivers and football tickets to the incentive drawings.
On May 12, Penn State’s Faculty Senate voted 113-31 in favor of a resolution recommending the university mandate COVID-19 vaccines for students and employees before returning to campus for the fall 2021 semester.
Since vaccines have become available, however, administrators have indicated they have no intention of requiring COVID-19 vaccinations and instead said they would focus on incentives. Provost Nick Jones reiterated that stance during the Faculty Senate meeting. He added that the university may consider some restrictive measures for those who do not get the vaccine, but that no specific decisions had been made.
In Pennsylvania, 21 colleges and universities — nearly all private — are requiring COVID-19 vaccinations, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education. Big Ten schools Northwestern, Indiana, Maryland, Michigan and Rutgers are requiring the vaccine
Penn State officials also have said their other focus is on making the vaccine as widely available as possible by working with the Department of Health and local providers.
University Health Services will holding a vaccine clinic from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on June 28 and 29 in the HUB-Robeson Center’s Alumni Hall. More details will be provided at a later date, according to a news release.
“At this time there is no better or easier way to protect yourself and others from COVID-19 than to get vaccinated,” Kelly Wolgast, director of the university’s COVID-19 Operations Control Center, said in a statement. “The vaccines are scientifically proven to be effective. However, it’s important to keep in mind that it takes time for the vaccine to be fully effective. There’s a three- or four-week wait between the two-dose vaccines and then another two weeks after the second or single dose before you are considered to be fully vaccinated. For this reason, we encourage students to get vaccinated as soon as possible so that they are fully immunized before the start of the fall semester.”
In Centre County Vaccination appointments for ages 12 and older are available through Centre Volunteers in Medicine, Mount Nittany Health and through other pharmacies and providers listed at vaccines.gov. The state-run Regional Vaccination Clinic at the Bryce Jordan Center offers vaccines to individuals 18 and older by appointment or walk-in.
As of Tuesday morning, 68,910 people in Centre County are fully vaccinated and 13,337 have received a first dose.