Norman City Council passes COVID-19 vaccine incentive program

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NORMAN, Okla. (KFOR) – Three weeks after tabling a vote for a controversial COVID-19 vaccine incentive program, Norman City Council passed the program with some adjustments Tuesday.

Some ideas from the Aug. 24 proposal, such as giving a $25,000 grand prize in a raffle, were discarded. 

The new proposal passed five votes to four on Tuesday.

It will appropriate $500,000 of American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 funds.

A cap of $250,000 is for incentivizing City of Norman employees, $180,000 for Norman residents, $50,000 to coordinate and run in-home vaccinations, and $20,000 to operate vaccination pods at places such as churches, apartment complexes, and places of businesses.

The City is teaming up with IMMY labs to give the vaccines.

The program gives $250 to any City of Norman employee who gets the vaccine or already has gotten the vaccine. 

It also will give a $25 gift card to any Norman resident who gets vaccinated for the first time or gets a COVID booster shot. The gift cards will only be for Norman-based restaurants.

Ward 5 councilperson Rarchar Tortorello was against the program.

“If we go forward with this, we’re not going to see a big jump,” he said. “If you were going to get vaccinated, you would have gotten vaccinated by now.”

He also said there are better uses for the money than incentivizing people.

Norman Mayor Breea Clark pleaded that the program is worth trying even if they save just a few lives, citing that any money not used would go right back into the ARPA fund.

“We have worked so hard over the past 18 months and I am more than happy to continue trying anything we can to get over the hump and put COVID-19 behind us,” she said.

The program runs for a limited time, from October 1 through November 30.

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