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Rockford Public Schools use financial incentives to up student vaccination rates - WIFR

ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) - For some, returning to school is exciting. But for others, it’s a sorrowful goodbye to summer.

For Kayden Wacker-Gray, the return might be a little more tolerable. He said he gets a $1 hundred gift card from Rockford Public Schools for getting the COVID-19 vaccination. He already plans how to spend the money.

“Hopefully vinyl records and other miscellaneous objects,” said Wacker-Gray.

Students 12 and older have the opportunity to pocket a $1 hundred gift card when they register for school if they get the shot. Chief of schools Morgan Gallagher said this is the latest push from RPS to prevent students and staff from a repeat of last school year.

“We want all of our students to have the safest, and most normal school year, to be able to participate in extracurricular activities and athletics,” Gallagher said.

But not everyone is on board with paying people to get vaccinated. Parents on the RPS 205 Facebook page called this incentive a “bribery.” One user asked “why choose to vaccinate a child when it isn’t fully approved by the FDA?”

Kayden’s mom, Lacey Wacker-Gray, said she believes getting children vaccinated lowers the chance of school closures.

“He’s able to go to school safely, and we don’t have to worry about him getting hospitalized or anything bad happening,” said Wacker-Gray.

The vaccine will be available for children 12 and older at student registration on Wednesday, Aug. 18 from 7 a.m. - 3 p.m. and Thursday, Aug. 19 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

  • Register with the Winnebago County Health Department: wchd.org/covid-19
  • Visit a vaccine clinic on Wednesday, Aug. 18 or Thursday, Aug. 19 to receive the first vaccine shot.
  • Students who receive the first dose at an RPS 205 clinic will receive a $50 gift card. A second gift card will be provided when the second shot is given. If demand exceeds our gift card supply, school staff will distribute gift cards to vaccinated students ASAP.
  • Any RPS 205 students who are already fully vaccinated will receive a $100 gift card from RPS 205. School administrators will share details soon.

Gallagher said fully vaccinated students will not have to quarantine unless they show COVID-19 symptoms.

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