UAFS launches ‘Lions Vax’ program to encourage vaccinations

by Tina Alvey Dale ([email protected]) 270 views 

The University of Arkansas at Fort Smith (UAFS) has started a vaccine Incentive program – with prizes that include a $1,000 university credit and $300 bookstore voucher – to encourage students to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

The “Lions Vax” program, which will join numerous other COVID safety programs as part of the UAFS Protecting The Pride plan, was announced to the campus Thursday (Sept. 2) in an email, a UAFS news release said.

“In a continuation of our Protecting the Pride plan for fall 2021, we are excited to announce the Protecting the Pride Vaccine Incentive program: LionsVax. UAFS will hold bi-weekly drawings for prizes worth up to $1,000 throughout the fall semester to encourage our students to stay healthy and safe by getting the COVID-19 vaccine,” the email noted.

All fully-vaccinated students, regardless of when they received their vaccine, will be eligible to win as long as they have completed the vaccination schedule by Nov. 8. The first drawing will be held Sept. 14. Entries must be received by Sept. 13 11:59 p.m. to enter the first drawing.

Eligible students have a chance to win one of 27 prizes including University Account Credits of $1,000, Samsung Galaxy Tablets, UAFS Meal plans with Lion’s Cash (a $400 value); Campus Bookstore book vouchers (a $300 value) and JBL headphones and EarPods. Bi-weekly drawings will continue throughout the semester with five or more prizes being awarded during each drawing.

The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 requires universities that accept monetary support to use a portion of the Institutional Funds provided to employ evidence-based practices in slowing the transmission of the virus, said Lee Krehbiel, vice chancellor for Student Affairs.

“Both the CDC and the (Arkansas) Department of Health have asserted that achieving a high percent of vaccinated persons in a population is a key strategy in slowing the spread,” Krehbeil said. “Encouraging students to get vaccinated, with no penalty for not doing so, is consistent with their guidance while also following state law. Our hope is those students who have neither a deep-seated philosophical nor a considered medical objection to the vaccine will decide to take the next step and get vaccinated.”

Students who are interested in getting the vaccine and becoming eligible for the Protecting the Pride prize drawings may register for their vaccine at any local or regional community provider, the news release said.

According to the UAFS website, there were 23 active cases of COVID – 19 students and four employees – reported at the university Aug. 27. The university reports the numbers every Friday. The Arkansas Department of Health COVID-19 dashboard said there 23,077 active cases of COVID-19 in the state Thursday. There were 1,164 active cases in Sebastian County and 571 active cases of the virus in Crawford County.

The state-wide immunization rate was listed as 48.2%. Sebastian and Crawford counties are below the state average with 40.5% of adults 12 and older fully vaccinated in Sebastian County and 40.4% of that same group vaccinated in Crawford County.

According to the ADH dashboard, there were 231 positive COVID-19 patients in hospitals in the Arkansas Valley (Fort Smith metro) hospital association region. There were 74 COVID patients in intensive care units and 47 patients on ventilators.