Norman leaders table vote on vaccine incentives

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NORMAN, Okla. (KFOR) – Norman city leaders are hoping money will motivate people to roll up their sleeves and get the COVID-19 vaccine.

The Norman City Council proposed a plan at a Tuesday night meeting.

It did not get a vote but sparked a fiery debate.

“We’re in the middle of a pandemic,” said Ward 1 councilwoman Brandi Studley. “It was tapering off, but it’s coming back up and we have to do something to help try to taper this back down.”

A proposal was put forth for the city to set aside $500,000 of American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 funds for a vaccination incentive program.

City Financial Director Anthony Francisco said $475,000 of the federal funds would be put toward gift cards for anyone who gets a vaccine after the program launched and $25,000 towards a raffle for a single grand prize.

The $25,000 grand prize raffle would accept entries from both those who had gotten the vaccine before the program launch and those that got it afterwards.

Many at Tuesday’s council meeting were not fans of the idea.

“I am opposed to spending any money at all to incentivize the vaccine,” one resident said. “The people that aren’t vaccinated at this point don’t want to be. That’s our choice, our decision.”

Some opponents expressed that those federal dollars could be better spent elsewhere.

Others wanted to further vet out the legality of the program, wondering if it was legal to limit who could get the incentives or if only businesses could legally fund such a program, rather than the city.

The resolution was not voted on and tabled until a meeting on September 14.

Another COVID resolution was voted on and passed Tuesday.

It stated that the City of Norman strongly encourages residents to follow the CDC guidelines to prevent the spread of COVID, including wearing masks and getting a vaccine.

It passed 7 to 2.

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