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Stories, Stats, Impacts: Wyoming Public Media is here to keep you current on the news surrounding the coronavirus pandemic.

Albany County Launches Vaccine Incentive Program Backed By $50K

A medical professional prepares to give a patient a vaccine.
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In July, the Laramie City Council and the Albany County Commission supported a motion pushing for a 70 percent vaccination rate. Now they’re each putting up to $25,000 toward encouraging residents to get vaccinated.

The incentive program will give a $25 gift card to people getting their first or second COVID-19 shot. Additionally, residents can enter their names for a weekly $1,000 cash reward. There are additional cash and big-ticket awards — like Wyoming Cowboys Homecoming tickets — that will be announced in October. Previously vaccinated people will be eligible for those as well.

City Councilor Sharon Cumbie said these efforts are aimed at people who would like the vaccine, but haven't been able to yet for whatever reason.

"We’re not trying to convert people," Cumbie said. "We’re trying to reach the people that would like to get the vaccine … and help provide support so that we can help get these groups vaccinated."

The goal is to encourage and help people who have not yet gotten vaccinated because of financial limitations, time constraints, an inability to take off from work or a need for childcare.

Cumbie has been working with a group of community leaders that includes representatives from governments, businesses, nonprofits, healthcare providers and churches, as well the University of Wyoming and Albany County Public Health.

The $50,000 donated by the city of Laramie and Albany County will go beyond funding the rewards. And the group's work will continue beyond the final drawing.

"That’s not the end; it’s just the beginning," Cumbie said. "So we will continue to work as a group to anticipate what the barriers are, and to work to lower those barriers."

Albany County is days away from welcoming an influx of University of Wyoming students. One year ago, the return of students to campus preceded a massive outbreak in the greater Laramie area.

According to the Wyoming Department of Health, just 45 percent of the county is fully vaccinated.

Jeff is a part-time reporter for Wyoming Public Media, as well as the owner and editor of the Laramie Reporter, a free online news source providing in-depth and investigative coverage of local events and trends.
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