June 2021

Will it work? City leaders, residents question effectiveness of ‘Vaccine Green’ initiative

Courtesy of WBNS 10TV
By Bryant Somerville
June 16, 2021

Columbus Urban League President and CEO Stephanie Hightower says what needs to be done is more direct campaigning.

COLUMBUS, Ohio — While the number of people who have qualified for the $100 giveaway has yet to be determined, Columbus Urban League President and CEO Stephanie Hightower says what needs to be done is more direct campaigning to let the people of Columbus know it’s available.

Columbus City Council voted Monday to approve a measure to give $100 dollars, up to $275,000 in all to 2,750 people getting their Covid-19 vaccination.

“I think that we will exhaust these funds sooner than later,” Hightower said.

Hightower says as soon as the Vaccine Green Program was passed her phone started blowing up. Tuesday morning at the office, she says there were many inquiries and walk-ins with people wanting to know where to go to get the shot and how to get their $100.

But at Tuesday’s pop-up clinic at the Feddersen Community Center, there were hardly any takers. In fact, in the hour-and-a-half that 10TV was there, only one elderly woman showed up. Her husband says she knew nothing about the $100 gift.

On Wednesday at Columbus State Community College, the number of people getting vaccinated was low.

It’s raising the thought; no matter what is being offered some people are still just saying no.

Nick Dwertman is one of them. He’s an unvaccinated man who lives in Columbus. For him, there are still too many unknowns.

“The vaccine’s experimental,” he said. “Nobody knows what the long-term effects of it are.”

Dwertman doesn’t speak ill of anyone who gets the vaccine saying everyone has a choice. He believes the $100 giveaway is the city’s way to get rid of a growing stockpile of vaccines.

“Now, at this point, it’s stagnant,” he said of the number of people getting vaccinated. “So, I think what’s happened is we invested all this money into all these vaccines and I think a lot of places are like we got to get rid of these.”

But Hightower says that’s not it and the hundred dollars is the city’s way of helping people who want to get the vaccine, especially in the Black and other minority communities, but couldn’t afford to take off work.

Still, Hightower says she knows there are barriers.

“I’m sure there’s still vaccine hesitancy,” she said.

As for the seemingly low turnout in the last couple of days, Hightower says the answer is intentional marketing.

“We have to go to the people and we have to make sure that people know that it’s available,” she said.

As for the number of people who have registered for the $100, Hightower says her team will review the data this weekend and present those numbers to the city council.

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