Photo: Chattanooga Mayor Tim Kelly
Photo Credit: Mayor Tim Kelly / Facebook
Published August 6, 2021
The Tennessee Conservative Staff –
Yesterday, August 5th, Chattanooga Mayor Tim Kelly unveiled a new vaccination incentive program for area residents.
The “Vax 4 Cash Sweepstakes” is a weekly $1,000 drawing that is limited to only fully vaccinated Hamilton County residents.
Justin Groenert, VP of Public Policy at the Chattanooga Chamber said “The only permanent way to end this pandemic and keep our city open for business is to vaccinate our way out of it. Incentives are a powerful tool in the toolbox to increase our community’s vaccination rate to 70% and the Chamber supports incentives that help our businesses and employees stay healthy.”
The program was developed as a collaborative effort between the city’s Office of Community Health, the Chattanooga Chamber Foundation, American Airlines, CARTA, and others with the first drawing taking place on August 19th, with an additional random winner to be draw each week thereafter.
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Mayor Kelly said, “Far and away the most efficient way to emerge from this pandemic is for at least 70% of our population to get vaccinated. And that’s not just the opinion of our health experts here in Chattanooga and across the country, that’s common sense that dates back to the first smallpox vaccine in 1796. That’s why we’re taking this definitive step in the fight against the pandemic.”
According to the Mayor’s Office, weekly winners are eligible to win $1,000, as well a city parking pass good for one month while supplies last. The first winner will also receive a pair of round-trip plane tickets to anywhere in the world that American Airlines flies, courtesy of American Airlines.
Ellis Smith, Chattanooga Director of Special Projects, told the Tennessee Conservative, “We plan to seek reimbursement for the costs of this program through the American Rescue Plan, which covers things like this. The cost of the program will be about $20,000, unless we decide to extend it.”
The sweepstakes opened as of 4 p.m. yesterday. The sweepstakes are limited to Hamilton County residents who are over 18 and fully vaccinated.
The winner’s vaccination status will be verified by the Hamilton County Health Department, and all prizes will be presented by Mayor Kelly in partnership with the Chattanooga Chamber Foundation, and announced on social media and through other channels. Vaccinations received anywhere in Tennessee or Georgia are able to be verified.
“I’m proud of everyone who has worked together to make this project possible, and while our hope is that this sweepstakes will be a fun incentive for our residents, we must not lose sight of the fact that our community finds itself in a grave situation,” said Dr. Mary Lambert, Chattanooga’s director of community health.
According to the Mayor’s Office, Hamilton County has had more than 500 COVID-19 deaths so far, and several of the recent fatalities have been among otherwise healthy young adults. The only thing they had in common was that they were unvaccinated.
“If 500 Chattanoogans died on an ocean liner, an airplane or in a factory, it would rank among the greatest single tragedies in local history,” Lambert said. “We can and must do more to save lives.”