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PSU offers vaccination incentive for students, faculty, staff

Pittsburg State University is offering monetary incentives to students, faculty, and staff who have either received their COVID-19 vaccination or will receive their full COVID-19 vaccination by Sept. 17.

The university announced Monday, Aug. 9 that, until Sept. 17, PSU is offering a scholarship in the amount of $500 to any full-time student who receives their full vaccination or $1000 for faculty and staff. Additionally, students who submit proof of full vaccination will be entered into a drawing for one of two larger scholarships. These scholarships are in the amount of $8, 500. This effectively covers the full cost of tuition, housing and fees. The scholarship award and drawing are open to all full-time students at both the undergraduate and graduate levels.

According to the CDC, the percentage of people vaccinated in Crawford County is approximately 43-percent. The number of new cases per day during the last week is 185 and 65-percent of ICU beds are being used at the time of printing, according to the Crawford County Health Department. Director of university marketing Abigail Fern believes that this vaccine incentive will help bring these numbers down in Crawford County.

“We wanted to do this because vaccines are the single most important way that we can make sure that our students and faculty and staff stay healthy,” Fern said. “We also need to keep our campus running and what’s going to get us there? Our vaccines. We’re doing lots and lots of things to encourage vaccines…”

Other universities in Kansas are offering incentives for students and faculty to receive their full COVID-19 vaccination. Institutions like the University of Kansas are offering gift cards and a drawing for full tuition similar to Pitt State. Kansas State University is offering a variety of prizes to win such as $1000 cash, a Sony PlayStation 5, or a MacBook Air. Missouri State University in Springfield, Mo is offering a multitude of prizes as well, such as full tuition or free parking on campus.

“One of the big challenges from a PR perspective is that they have the information they need and that’s based on real science and actual facts and not propaganda,” Fern said. “And also we want to make sure people understand that this is not politicized at all on our front. This is not a political issue… This is a health and safety issue… We are promoting vaccines because we trust the science…”

Students received an email linking them to the webpage where they can upload a picture of their completed vaccination card. However, some universities are seeing forged vaccination cards, according to a report by the Associated Press.

“Uploading a forged vaccination card is fraud, potentially federal fraud,” Fern said. “We are leaving our options open as to who we would report that to…”

Fern also stated that the current mask mandate is based on data from the Crawford County Health Department and will be evaluated every two weeks. If the strain on the hospital system is lowered and the Crawford County Health Department deems it appropriate, Pittsburg State may remove their mask mandate once again.

“When we announced the vaccination incentive, we had people walking over to the Health Center to get vaccinated for the first time,” Fern said. “We know that this is working at least with our initial goal.”

Students must receive their full vaccination by Sept. 17. This means that for those receiving the Moderna vaccine, they must receive their first dose by Aug. 20, and the second dose by Sept. 17. For those receive the Pfizer vaccine, they must receive their first dose by Aug. 27, and the second dose by Sept. 17. For those receiving the one dose of Johnson & Johnson, they must receive their dose by Sept. 17. Scholarships received via the vaccination incentive will apply to Spring 2022 tuition.

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