Gov. Cooper visits StarMed vaccine site in Charlotte to see $25 cash card incentive program in action

Updated: Jun. 3, 2021 at 5:34 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - On Thursday, North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper traveled to west Charlotte to tour the StarMed vaccination site on Tuckaseegee Road.

This is where the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services’ first vaccine incentives pilot program kicked off last week.

Through the $25 Summer Cash Card Program, anyone who shows up for a first dose, or drives someone to get their first dose, gets a cash card.

According to StarMed, more than 1,000 people turned out for the shot and walked away with a cash card within the first few days of the program starting.

“If the first week is any indication, it is safe to say this program will be a huge success,” StarMed CEO Mike Estramonte said.

With less than half of the state vaccinated, Governor Cooper says they have to do what it takes to get shots into arms.

“We still have over 600 people in this state in the hospital, we still have close to 200 people in ICU beds,” Cooper said. “We have people dying most every day still of this virus so it is not over.”

Right now that means paying people with cash cards, and moving forward, everything is on the table.

Governor Cooper says that could include a million dollar vaccine lottery.

“We are looking at all of those options that other states are doing right now, looking at how it is affected their success in getting people vaccinated, looking at North Carolina law, looking at potential funding sources,” he said.

Meanwhile city leaders remain focused on access.

“We are working really hard to make sure that everyone that lives in the city and county has the opportunity to walk in some place, drive up some place to get this vaccination,” Mayor Vi Lyles said.

Estramonte says he and his staff at StarMed have learned a lot through their vaccination efforts and now they want to share their playbook with other countries.

He says they are in talks with Haiti and the republic of Congo about traveling overseas to distribute vaccines and share their expertise.

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