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LAST DAY: North Carolina offering $100 COVID-19 vaccine incentive

The $100 Prepaid Mastercards were available to anyone 18 and older getting the first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine at several sites statewide.

RALEIGH, N.C. — Tuesday, Aug. 31 is the last day some North Carolina vaccine providers are giving out the $100 summer cash cards to people who go get the first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

Getting paid to get protected was worth it to some.

“Yes of course! I mean who couldn't use $100,” Jerry Bridges said after getting vaccinated at StarMed on Tuckaseegee Road.

As August comes to a close, so does the vaccine incentive program. While supplies lasted, $100 Prepaid Mastercards were available to anyone 18 and older getting their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine at  several sites in North Carolina. NCDHHS also offered $25 to people who drove others to a vaccine appointment. This included parents driving children between the ages of 12 and 17 to an appointment.

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“I can go fill up my car after this and it not cost me anything," Alex Byerly said. "It’s great. They should continue to do that for sure."

But did the incentives pay off? The state bumped it up from $25 to $100 on Aug. 3. State data shows there was an increase in first doses given in the two weeks after they upped the ante.

“When it was $25 it did increase a bit, but the $100 was a game-changer,” Michael Estramonte, the CEO of StarMed Healthcare said.

But statewide, vaccination rates have increased each week for the last seven, doctors believe some of that is because of the more contagious delta variant.

Experts think for those who are adamantly against getting vaccinated, the incentive wasn’t enough to bring them out. But for many who put it off, they were just waiting for it to be convenient, and the cash sweetened the deal.

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“I think what really pushed me to come is I’m seeing all these new variants and it’s unpredictable what the future holds," Bridges said. "So, I'm taking all the necessary precautions and I’m going to encourage everyone I can do so as well."

The cash motivated some of the crowd who walked up to get the shot on the final day of prizes, and some people are wondering why the state wouldn't continue to incentivize it when there’s a great need to get vaccination rates up.

“It’s a win-win for all, spend the money and the people will come,” Bridges said.

State officials said in a press release they'll continue to find ways to encourage vaccination.

Contact Chloe Leshner at cleshner@wcnc.com and follow her on FacebookTwitter and Instagram. 

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