Poke-a-Thon: OSU launches incentive program to encourage student vaccinations

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STILLWATER, Okla. (KFOR) – Oklahoma State University says there are plenty of reasons to get vaccinated, but it wants to offer students even more, including football tickets, iPads and bursar scholarships.

OSU is offering students incentives to get vaccinated for COVID-19 through the Poke-a-thon campaign.

“You look at the vaccination rates across Oklahoma and across the country. This demographic is not as high as we’d like it to be. If we are going to get back to as normal a fall semester and spring semester as possible, we believe vaccinations are a key aspect of that,” said Doug Hallenbeck, Vice President of Student Affairs. “So, it’s just encouraging folks that may be on the fence and haven’t been vaccinated to get vaccinated, but also reward those students that have also gotten the vaccination.”

The contest is open to fully vaccinated, OSU-Stillwater students actively enrolled for the fall 2021 semester.

For eight weeks beginning Aug. 18, weekly raffles will determine the winners.

To participate, students must provide proof of full vaccination to OSU University Health Services (UHS). Students who received their vaccination through UHS automatically will be entered in the raffle.

OSU President Kayse Shrum said vaccinations are the key to continued success in the battle against COVID-19.

Dr. Shrum continues to encourage the OSU community to get vaccinated in anticipation of a full return to in-person learning this fall.

“As we near the beginning of the fall semester, I am strongly encouraging vaccinations, particularly amongst our student population,” Shrum said. “In an effort to provide additional motivation, we are launching ‘Poke-a-thon,’ a campaign with incentives for students to get vaccinated in order to help protect our campus community.”

OSU administrators are following the guidance of state health officials, who are emphasizing the vital importance of the vaccine in protecting community members and ultimately ending the pandemic.

“It’s a public health stance. We’re not mandating that anybody takes the vaccine. What we’re trying to do is, how do you take personal responsibility for self. You make a personal choice, whether you get it or not. And how do we best protect the health of the community as well. We felt like this is the best way to provide people with choice but also encourage folks to get vaccinated as well,” Hallenbeck said. “I believe we listen to the public health experts, and the public health experts say that vaccinations help reduce COVID, reduce the spread, and reduce the severity if you get COVID but have been positive.”

While the list is still growing, prizes will include:

  • Three $3,500 scholarships in the form of bursar credit 
  • Two suite tickets to a Cowboy football home game
  • Two club-level tickets to a Cowboy football home game
  • Two Fan Experience packages at a Cowboy football home game
  • Two Apple iPads
  • Two Apple Airpods
  • Five $50 gift cards for campus dining
  • 10 $100 gift cards for the University Store
  • 10 free parking passes
  • Three free campus bike rentals
  • Giveaways from local Stillwater businesses 

School authorities say in addition to promoting vaccinations at University Health Services during student move-in, UHS will offer pop-up vaccination clinics in the heart of campus throughout August.

Payne County Health Department will also offer vaccinations during the Lights on Stillwater event, which will be from 7 to 9 p.m. Aug. 18 at Boone Pickens Stadium.

Taylor Bui, a junior marketing and finance student, said getting vaccinated is the responsible thing to do.

“I think that it’s very irresponsible to not be vaccinated because there is a new variant and there is a way to protect ourselves, and which is the vaccine, and I think everyone should go get it,” Bui said.

Jenny Harris, a junior environmental science student, said offering incentives to get vaccinated is a good idea, but she would prefer that people get vaccinated simply because it’s the right course of action.

““I wish that people would just get the vaccine because they want to, not just because they need an incentive. It’s kind of a no brainer to me. I’ve gotten it. It’s two seconds and it’s free,” Harris said.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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