Cleveland County offering $50 incentive for people who get COVID-19 vaccine

With Cleveland County having one of the lowest percentages of vaccinated people in the state, they're trying to offer another incentive to help the numbers.
Published: Sep. 29, 2021 at 11:18 PM EDT
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CLEVELAND COUNTY, N.C. (WBTV) - The Cleveland County Public Health Center announced a new COVID-19 vaccine incentive program Wednesday afternoon.

A press release from the health department states that beginning October 4, any Cleveland County resident 12 years old or older who receives a first or second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine will receive a $50 Visa gift card. Children ages 12 to 15 must have a parent or legal guardian present to consent to the vaccine and to receive a gift card on the child’s behalf, according to the release.

The release states that Cleveland County Commissioners authorized the use of grant dollars to make the incentive program possible.

Cleveland County resident Dena Spangler spoke to WBTV in an interview Wednesday night, explaining that she is one of the many people in the county who is not vaccinated against COVID-19.

“I’m not anti-vaccine. I’m just anti this vaccine right now for me,” said Spangler.

The Cleveland County native explained that she worked in pharmaceutical sales for several years and has concerns that the vaccine was developed too quickly without the proper trials.

“I need more proof of what this vaccine could possibly do to my body and the side effects,” said Spangler. “It’s a little concerning to me because I don’t feel like it’s been through as rigorous of studies that the FDA would typically require.”

While others have voiced this concern too, health officials have continued to reassure the public that the vaccine’s development timeline should not be a reason for declining vaccination. Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, previously addressed the vaccine’s development at a press conference at the White House.

“The process of speed did not compromise at all safety, nor did it compromise scientific integrity. It was a reflection of the extraordinary scientific advances in these types of vaccines which allowed us to do things in months which actually took years before,” said Fauci.

Spangler explained that despite reassurance from doctors and public health officials, she is still not ready to get vaccinated.

“I think it’s a personal choice honestly. If they say it’s okay – it’s one thing to take things at face value. I believe in doing your own research. I believe in having your own peace before you make a decision when it affects you personally,” said Spangler.

In recent weeks Cleveland County health officials have dealt with an increase in virus-related hospitalizations and lower vaccination rates.

According to Cleveland County Public Health Center, only 49 percent of people 12 or older in the county are fully vaccinated against the coronavirus. That percentage is not on par with the vaccination average across the state of North Carolina. 61 percent of people 12 or older are vaccinated statewide.

Last week the county’s local leaders and health officials publicly pleaded for people to get vaccinated to prevent further spread of the virus.

“Our community has come together in the past in times of crisis and we must do it again,” said Doug Bridges, chair of the Cleveland County Board of County Commissioners.

Spangler acknowledged that while the new incentive program may convince some people to get vaccinated, it’s not enough to change her mind.

“That’s great for some people, but for me personally I can’t put a dollar value on my health,” she said.

Those interested in scheduling a COVID-19 vaccine appointment with Cleveland County Public Health Center can call 980-484-6019 to make the appointment.

The health department said Cleveland County residents who receive their first or second dose vaccine at a provider other than the Cleveland County Health Department on or after October 4, may bring proof of their vaccine to the Cleveland County Health Department to receive a gift card. The cards are available while supplies last.

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