If you can’t lead a horse to water, try paying it to drink. That’s the approach that Boynton Beach mayor Steven Grant is taking to encouraging residents to get the vaccine.
The mayor proposed a $100,000 raffle to incentivize people to get vaccinated at a city commission meeting this past week. The winner? One vaccinated city resident. The entry fee? The COVID-19 vaccine.
“We want to make sure everybody has the perception that it’s good for the community to get the vaccine,” Grant told local media.
Vaccine prize to come from federal funding
Grant brought up the $100,000 raffle during a segment of a city commission meeting in which commissioners discussed $500 bonuses for city employees. The raffle was not part of the Sept. 21 meeting’s agenda.
Grant said, responding to public comment about how the city is spending its money:
“I was trying to have a raffle for everybody who is already gotten the vaccine: a $100,000 raffle. However, we would need two other commissioners to that … I do feel that everyone in the city of Boynton Beach should be entitled to some funds for getting vaccines.”
The mayor’s proposal isn’t novel. Politicians across the country have come up with plenty of creative ways to encourage people to get vaccinated:
- Massachusetts: Five cash prizes of $1 million for vaccinated residents and five $300,000 scholarships for vaccinated residents ages 12 to 17.
- Michigan: $2 million, $1 million and $50,000 prizes for those who are at least partially vaccinated.
- Ohio: Five $1 million drawings for vaccinated state residents and five full-ride scholarships for college-bound students.
- Colorado: Five $1 million prizes for vaccinated residents
The proposed lottery would be the latest effort the city has made to incentivize its residents to get the vaccine. Last month, the city offered $100 Visa gift cards to the first 500 people who showed up at a free vaccination event.
Boynton Beach $500 bonuses for city employees
While Grant couldn’t muster up support for his $100,000 vaccine raffle, the commission unanimously approved a $500 bonus for any of the city’s 800 employees who are vaccinated by Nov. 15.
The incentive is a timely one, as city records indicate that only 39% of the city’s employees are vaccinated.
City of Boynton Beach employee vaccination rates
Per those records, here is a breakdown of vaccination rates by the city of Boynton Beach department:
|City manager and legal||11||10||91%|
|Human resource and risk||9||8||89%|
|Police - communications||15||5||33%|
|Police - professional||39||17||44%|
|Police - sworn LEOs||146||45||31%|
|Recreation and Parks||63||17||27%|
The city employee vaccination rate is considerably lower than the vaccination rate in Palm Beach County where Boynton Beach is located.
According to the tracking site Covid Act Now, 66.7% of Palm Beach County residents have at least one dose of the vaccine.