Hannah Pinski (Opinions editor) – Hey guys, did you hear the University of Iowa Undergraduate Student Government is offering vaccine incentives to students? The program is open to students who have brought their vaccination card to the Iowa Memorial Union and are eligible for prizes such as dinner with President Barbara Wilson, Apple Products, and VIP access to sporting events. What are our thoughts on this? Will it help increase vaccinations?
Shahab Khan (Opinions Columnist) – I think within the confines of what USG can do, this seems like a great idea!
Hannah – This was smart on USG President Regan Smock’s part. When creating this plan, she said that safety was a top priority in establishing a vaccine incentive program.
Yassie Buchanan (Opinions Columnist) – Johnson County is 65 percent vaccinated, but we don’t know the percent of people vaccinated on campus. With the Board of Regents also not allowing mask mandates, I agree it’s a good idea to try and incentivize the vaccine!
Shahab – However, we have to remember that incentives are limited in actually getting people vaccinated. Remember in May and April when states were handing out millions of dollars? Well, it looks like these efforts led to an initial boost in vaccinations, they ultimately did not end up persuading a majority of unvaccinated individuals to get the vaccine.
Sophie Stover (Opinions Contributor) – To your point Shahab, how well has this program been marketed? I wonder how many students have heard about it. If vaccine incentives haven’t proven to be significantly persuasive, and much of the student population is unaware, how well could it work?
Hannah – I’ve only heard about it through an email with a link to the vaccine program website from USG. I don’t think a lot of students are aware of this program.
Yassie – Yeah, I think it might be more effective to focus on community outreach as a way to get more of campus vaccinated. Other states have found success with focusing on the community. On campus RA’s could talk about the vaccine incentive program and how to get vaccinated with their residents.
Shahab – Also, looking through the list of incentives, who would want dinner with the President?
Sophie – You could win Apple products or free parking though! I know I’d like to avoid racking up more parking tickets.
Shahab – To add onto that Yassie, there are empirical indications that show that community outreach has improved vaccination rates amongst U.S Latinos.
Hannah – I think to help with community outreach we could have flyers around the dorms to promote the program and have a table set up near the downtown Pentacrest area like other student organizations have done.
Shahab – We also have to remember this is within the confines of what USG can do, power to actually get students vaccinated lies with the Board of Regents
Sophie – I’m glad USG is doing their best to increase vaccinations and overall safety on campus. The Board still won’t implement a mask mandate, even though Iowa’s mask mandate ban was temporarily blocked. At least USG is using their authority as student representatives on campus.
Shahab – Good point Sophie, overall I think USG has made a good first effort in getting students vaccinated. But again to what Yassie said, implementing a vaccination strategy that focuses on community outreach is what is going to get students vaccinated.
Hannah – I think as long as the program is marketed out more this will encourage students to get vaccinated which will help protect our campus community.