Lafene Health Center used a student incentive program to get students vaccinated against COVID-19. The names of six students who received a dose were drawn every Friday from Aug. 13 to Oct. 8. Lafene will award the grand prize on Friday, Oct. 15, according to the incentives program website.
Shawn Funk, project manager for vaccine communications, said some of the prizes gifted include Apple Watch Series 6s, an Xbox Series S, $400 Union Bookstore gift cards, a weighted blanket and more. In addition, the grand prize winner is eligible to win a choice of $1,000 cash, a Macbook Air or a Sony Playstation 5.
Michelle Geering, public information officer for the Division of Communications and Marketing at Kansas State, said an estimated 66 percent of students are vaccinated.
Funk said Lafene uses three systems to gather information on student vaccinations. First, it uses data from WebIZ, controlled by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, to track the number of in-state doses. It also follows the number of students who register through student portals and receive a shot at the health center.
“We don’t have any data on how effective it has been,” Funk said. “We continue to give vaccines, and we’re pleased with the rate that we have.”
According to the COVID-19 In Our Communities webpage, student COVID cases are at a 1.40 percent positivity rate with seven positive cases. Site data shows this is the second-lowest reported rate since the beginning of the semester.
Lafene participated in the White House’s COVID-19 College Vaccine Challenge this past summer, vaccinating 72 percent of students, faculty and staff on campus during that time — exceeding the national goal of 70 percent.
However, according to K-State Reporting and Analytics, student vaccine records changed because the student population increased from 2,922 in summer to 16,528 for the 2021 fall semester. Some students aren’t in the K-State tracking system.
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Not everyone is convinced the program is affecting the student vaccination rate. Ryan Ranzau, senior in biology, said he received the vaccine because he wanted to go on a trip with friends but believes incentives have the opposite effect.
“Without having any statistics about the program, in my opinion, incentive programs are counter-productive to vaccination interest,” Ranzau said. “People are already skeptical of the virus.”
Ranzau said when people perceive agencies are offering bribes, they cause mistrust and look suspicious.
“I have come to the point where I feel like the incentives are really more of a reward than an incentive,” Funk said. “I can’t imagine that any students, faculty or staff are choosing to get the vaccine just because of the incentives that are being offered. I believe that most people getting the vaccine here are doing so because they want to, not for the incentives.”
Thirty-three people have received prizes since the program’s start, but 49 students have missed the opportunity to claim their prize because they didn’t respond to their email.
The last chance for students to claim prize winnings is Oct. 15, but Lafene will continue offering vaccinations.
“You might think that you won’t get it, and it won’t be that severe, but it’s not about you in this scenario,” Nicole Crist, freshman in business administration, said about COVID-19. “It’s more about the people that you come in contact with: your family members and older people in general, even younger people since they’re getting it a lot.”