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Vaccine Incentive

State makes offer to college students
Sunday, August 15, 2021
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Louisiana has upped the ante once again for people to get COVID-19 vaccinations, and this time the aim is at college students.

Gov. John Bel Edwards on Friday unveiled the Shot For $100 program that will give $100 gift cards to the first 75,000 students who get vaccinated at participating colleges and universities.

Eighteen-to 29-year-olds are one of the least vaccinated age groups in Louisiana and are reporting the most cases statewide, Edwards said.

Both Louisiana Tech and Grambling State universities are participating in the program that’s expected to go live next week.

Shot For $100 is the latest move in the Edwards’ administration’s push to increase Louisiana’s low 37% COVID vaccination rate. Edwards has repeatedly blamed the meager vaccination rate with helping fuel the more contagious Delta variant’s run through the state.

The governor said Louisiana remains in a dangerous place and there’s nothing to suggest a change anytime soon.

“We’re in a bad place,” Edwards said. “That’s why we have to slow transmission and increase vaccinations.”

Louisiana still has the highest growth rate of new COVID cases nationwide. The state’s positivity rate is at 16.1%, the highest it’s been since April of 2020, according to the Louisiana Department of Health.

“Doctors say that the risk has never been higher of contracting COVID no matter where you are in the state of Louisiana right now,” Dr. Joe Kanter, the state’s chief health officer, said.

Hospitals across the state are “rapidly approaching the breaking point” because of the increase in COVID patients, most of whom are unvaccinated and sicker than were patients in earlier surges, Edwards said.

Some 58 hospitals statewide have reached out to LDH for help, officials said. Though the facilities have bed space, they don’t have enough staff to care for the influx of COVID patients, as well as other patients needing hospitalization.

“If this trajectory continues several more weeks, it will simply be catastrophic,” Kanter said.

Meanwhile, confirmed COVID cases in Lincoln Parish continue to climb. As of Friday, the parish recorded 21 more cases than the day before, for a total of 121 new cases in a week.