It is no secret that colleges and universities have been Covid hot spots since the beginning of the pandemic. The close quarters of student housing, socializing with new friends, and the desire to fully immerse oneself into the classic college experience all provide opportunities for close contact amongst the collective student body. With the potential for the rapid and rampant spread of the infectious virus Covid-19, especially amongst college students living on campus, Universities across the country are attempting to get creative with how to properly incentivize their students to get the vaccine.
With universities being specifically identified as Covid hotspots, a new “best-practice” has quickly been adapted wherein colleges are offering incentives to those students who are vaccinated or get vaccinated at an on-campus facility. While there is no evidence yet of whether or not offering incentives has helped to keep Covid-19 rates low, there is substantial evidence to support the claim that college students love perks, prizes, and free stuff in all of its forms.
So how exactly are Universities across the country incentivizing students to get the vaccine? Here are just a few of the top creative ways that Universities are getting students hyped on getting their vaccination.
Pizza Parties – It’s a classic for a reason, and amongst college students, offering free pizza might as well be the same as offering free tuition for a year. Free pizza might not exactly be the most creative method of getting students to take the vaccine, but it is certainly a great way to get bodies in the door. A pizza party is a great way to allow students to mingle, meet each other, and most importantly, stay still for long enough to sit down and get a shot. Plus, any excuse not to have the same boring dinners from the commissary is plenty of reward for a quick jab in the arm.
Raffles – Raffles have proven a popular method of enticement as students who filter onto campus can drop off a copy of their vaccination card at a designated office, dormitory, etc., for the chance to win prizes. Some raffles have been small, offering things like portable electronics, gift cards to fast-food restaurants, etc. However, there have been reports of larger raffles taking place that involve large sums of money toward student housing, school supplies, books, and even tuition. Apparently, universities are willing to give away lots of free stuff to ensure their vaccination rates are up to snuff.
Vaccination Clinics – This is a strategy that many universities are employing in an effort to both vaccinate and educate students regarding the risks and benefits of vaccination. It makes perfect sense for an institution of higher learning to offer educational seminars regarding vaccination and how it affects students, faculty, and the university as a whole. Many times these vaccination clinics offer the opportunity to get vaccinated right there on the spot if desired. These clinics and seminars seem to be proving most effective in the effort to get more students vaccinated. College students appreciate the opportunity to be treated with respect and to be given the freedom to make their own choices. Seminars about vaccination tell students that they are appreciated, respected, and valued, and often that goes much further toward garnering desired results than a pizza party or raffle.
Fines – This one isn’t nearly as fun as the previous three, but it is undoubtedly creative. It is also a seemingly effective way to get students to get the vaccine. Apparently, college students are quite protective of their spending money, and the idea of paying an additional fine on top of the already expensive costs that come from attending a University is enough to get the vaccine before arriving on campus. While fines may not be the go-to choice for most major universities, they are certainly an option for any college that wants to make it perfectly clear that there is zero tolerance for being unvaccinated.
Bringing Back Certain Campus Activities – Things like Greek life recruiting, on-campus social events, and even fun pandemic related perks like puppy therapy are just some of the There are those who view the tactics of holding campus events hostage until certain vaccination thresholds are met as a gesture of bad faith between the student body and the university. However, most universities that ban specific social events do have a good reason for doing so based on the evidence that groups of unvaccinated individuals tend to spread the virus in larger numbers.
Getting vaccination numbers up is going to be one of the biggest struggles for universities in 2021 and potentially even into 2022. For as long as Covid-19 is an issue, the struggle to have students participate in vaccination will continue to be an obstacle for institutions like colleges and universities. As much as universities would like their student body population to be completely vaccinated, this goal is not exactly realistic.
The reality is that with a population as large and diverse as that which you’d encounter in a university setting, you’re going to have a large population that is against getting the vaccine. Regardless of the merits of the vaccine itself, or the personal reasons behind abstaining from the vaccine, universities need to work with their students so as not to pick sides.
Things like fining students who aren’t vaccinated or preventing unvaccinated students from coming to campus events are divisive tools that alienate and ostracize rather than unify and educate. And after all, shouldn’t an institution of higher learning be a place of rational thought and discourse about such a serious issue?
Universities should absolutely do their due diligence to spread insightful and helpful information about the positives and negatives of being vaccinated. However, once these insights have been shared, it is up to the students to make their own decision.
The student body of most major campuses across the United States is generally composed of young adults who are ready, eager, and willing to learn as much as they can. For the most part, these same young adults will make good decisions for themselves and for others, but deciding what is or is not a good decision for one individual (especially regarding personal healthcare) is wrong. These students may be young adults, but they are adults nonetheless, and their choices to participate or abstain from the vaccine should be treated with dignity and respect.