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City Hall set for vaccination clinic, 9-11 a.m. Wednesday with reward cards
City employees had placed "Free COVID-19 Vaccines" banners in front of Statesboro City Hall before the end of the day Tuesday in preparation for the 9-11 a.m. Wednesday, Sept. 1, vaccination clinic. The city government has made $50 gift cards available to the first 200 people, ages 18 and up, to be vaccinated.

Statesboro City Hall already had welcoming banners out front and folding chairs set up in its lobby the previous afternoon in preparation for the 9-11 a.m. Wednesday, Sept. 1, free COVID-19 vaccination clinic.

The $50 gift cards had been obtained from BB&T for presentation to the first 200 people, age 18 and older, who are vaccinated, said city Public Information Officer Layne Phillips. What remained was for Bulloch County Health Department professionals to bring the vaccines in first thing in the morning, and the planned, two-hour clinic would be ready to open. Two security guards were expected to be inside the lobby to help direct the people arriving.

“We're really hoping that we're going to have a great turnout tomorrow,” Mayor Jonathan  McCollar said Tuesday. "I'm super optimistic about it, and I think that we're in a different state right now as far as COVID-19 and the vaccine are concerned. I think we're at that phase now where more and more people are getting a little more confidence in the vaccine, so we're seeing more people choosing to go out and get the vaccine."

Officials have referred to the recent resurgence in COVID cases, particularly the highly contagious delta variant, as a "pandemic of the unvaccinated."

As of Tuesday, only 29% of Bulloch County residents have been fully vaccinated, while 34% have had at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, the Georgia Department of Public Health’s online dashboard indicated. Statewide, the fully vaccinated rate was 43% and the one-dose rate 51%.

"We hope that people are motivated not just to get their shots but pass the word forward about how safe it is," McCollar said

At the City Hall clinic, adults will have their choice of the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine or the Moderna vaccine, which requires two doses and for which a second vaccination date will be scheduled later, Phillips said. No vaccine will be administered that day to youth 17 and younger because the Pfizer vaccine, which is the only one approved for youth ages 12-17, will not be available.


Future incentives

Wednesday’s  effort,  with City Council’s recent approval of a $10,000 expenditure for the gift cards, is the start of a proposed commitment  by the Statesboro city government of at least $50,000 to vaccination incentives. City Manager Charles Penny proposed putting $35,000 into prize drawings to reward citizens who have already gotten vaccinated or do so in the near future.

His initial proposal was to put $20,000 into cash drawings for vaccinated people 18 years old or older and $15,000 into electronic gear, such as laptops, video game consoles and popular-brand headphones for youth ages 12-17 who get vaccinated.

City Council last week gave tentative approval for use of a “tiered” structure for the drawings, with prizes to be awarded first to newly vaccinated people, then larger prizes at the end for which anyone in the city who has been vaccinated will be eligible. Council members asked that Penny to return to the Sept. 7 council meeting with a detailed plan for the prize drawings.


8 p.m. update

Also Wednesday, McCollar has an 8 p.m. livestreamed update presentation on the COVID-19 situation planned, with East Georgia Regional Medical Center CEO Stephen Pennington and the hospital's ER medical director and chief of medical staff,  Dr. Alan Scott having agreed to participate. The mayor has also invited representatives of Georgia Southern University Health Services and the Bulloch County Emergency Management Agency.

The discussion will be streamed on the city's Facebook page.

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