At the University of Georgia, we are serious about urging our students, faculty and staff to be vaccinated, as vaccinations provide our community’s best protection against COVID-19. Yesterday’s FDA approval of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine for those 16 years of age and older marked a crucial step as we seek to protect the entire University, as well as those in our surrounding community, from the COVID-19 pandemic. We hope those who may have been hesitant about getting the vaccine will now feel confident in doing so.

Toward that end, we will be introducing an exciting new incentive program next week. It will be retroactive, allowing any current member of our faculty, staff or student body who has been fully vaccinated to participate.

Starting Wednesday, September 1, any current student, faculty or staff member who has been fully vaccinated (two doses of Pfizer or Moderna or one of Johnson & Johnson)—whether at the University Health Center (UHC) or elsewhere—can submit their names to be in the running to win a cash prize of $1,000. A total of 100 prizes will be awarded. 

Senior administrators (University Cabinet members and deans) are the only group not eligible, and employees’ awards must be taxed appropriately through payroll. Student awards will be processed through Student Financial Aid and will not interfere with other assistance being received.

The names of the first 50 lucky winners will be drawn on September 15, with another 25 to follow on September 30 and again on October 15. Individuals vaccinated in the coming weeks will be able to add their names to the pool as soon as they receive their second dose (or single dose of J&J). Winners will be required to validate the dates and locations of their vaccines.

Getting vaccinated is convenient and free to UGA students, faculty and staff at the UHC, and appointments may be booked online. Walk-ups are available at special vaccine clinics being offered at the Tate Student Center from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. on August 24-26, 30-31, and September 2. The clinics are offered in partnership with the local office of the Georgia Department of Health.

Those who are vaccinated at the University Health Center or its clinics are already receiving a $20 gift card and specially designed T-shirt, and for the next two weeks, they can sign up for a chance to win one of ten $100 gift cards being awarded on four successive Fridays. So far, 20 individuals have won—most of them students.

To date, the University of Georgia has administered 25,000 vaccines through the University Health Center (UHC). Many more individuals have been vaccinated through community providers. The UHC also plans to begin administering later this fall federally-recommended third doses to immunocompromised individuals and booster shots to others in order to combat waning immunity and the prevalence of the Delta variant.

Although there have been some breakthrough infections among vaccinated individuals, the overwhelming majority of those hospitalized who are suffering severe illness and death are unvaccinated individuals. This is the case with our area hospitals as well. 

Being vaccinated is simply the best way to protect our community, and we urge you to do so.  We also strongly encourage you to wear face coverings when inside campus facilities, particularly in classrooms and laboratories.