By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily
A number of organizations in Wyoming have implemented vaccine incentive programs and at least some have seen at least success, officials told Cowboy State Daily on Tuesday.
As a state, Wyoming has one of the lowest vaccination rates in the country, with 37.1% of the population receiving either both of the two-shot vaccinations or the single-shot vaccination made by Jannsen.
Earlier this month, the Laramie County School District No. 1, which encompasses Cheyenne, offered a one-time incentive of $500 to employees who are already fully vaccinated or are willing to undergo bi-monthly COVID tests.
District spokeswoman Mary Quast told Cowboy State Daily that approximately 1,345 employees have provided vaccination information for the incentive, approximately 56% of all permanent employees.
She added that around 120 employees are participating in the twice-monthly COVID testing incentive.
“The first round of incentive payments will be made at the end of October to the employees who are participating in the vaccination incentive and have verified that they are fully vaccinated by October 1,” Quast said. “The second round of payments for fully vaccinated employees will go out at the end of January. Employees participating in the testing incentive will receive their incentive payments in January.”
Funding for the LCSD1 incentive comes from federal COVID relief funds.
In late July, the city of Cheyenne announced it would offer extra vacation hours for full-time employees or additional payroll hours for part-time and seasonal employees who were fully vaccinated by Oct. 31.
City spokesman Michael Skinner told Cowboy State Daily on Tuesday that 266 city employees, 49% of the full-time workforce, were vaccinated and will receive the incentive.
The University of Wyoming has had one of the longest-running incentive programs in the state, having adopted it in the spring, not long after the COVID vaccines became widely available to the public.
Employees who report having been fully vaccinated are eligible for drawings for prizes such as iPads, AirPods and an Apple Watch, as well as a personal day off.
University spokesman Chad Baldwin told Cowboy State Daily on Tuesday that the key for their incentive program is for employees not only to get vaccinated, but to report it.
“Our way to measure the success of the incentive programs is the number of people reporting vaccination, even though we can’t say for certain that the incentives prompted people to report,” he said.
Baldwin said that for employees, the reported vaccination numbers increased significantly after the university launched the incentive program. Currently, 76% of the university’s total benefited employees (2,193 of 2,883) reported having received at least one dose of the vaccine.
Adding in the non-benefited employees, 3,466 of 6,416 (54%), have reported receiving at least one dose.
Among students, reported numbers have tripled since the incentive program began, with 4,342 students reported being vaccinated as of Monday, 41% of the total campus population.
“An anonymous survey at the start of the semester indicated 88 percent of employees and 66 percent of students have been vaccinated, so we know there’s still a significant number of people who haven’t taken the step of reporting,” Baldwin said.