Auburn University is offering students a chance at winning a variety of prizes – including a $1,000 scholarship, an unlimited meal plan, and a premium parking pass – if they get fully vaccinated against COVID-19 in time for the fast-approaching fall semester.
The new incentive program comes as Alabama struggles to get people inoculated against COVID-19, with just 40.1% of the state’s population aged 12 and older fully vaccinated, the lowest rate in the nation, according to CDC data.
Auburn is also offering student organizations the chance to win prizes if all of their members are vaccinated, such as custom Under Armour apparel, custom Yeti cups and coolers, catered food trucks, and free spray tans.
The school’s rival, the University of Alabama, is giving students $20 if they get vaccinated before returning to campus in late August, and Alabama football coach Nick Saban partnered up with the state’s health department to encourage vaccinations.
“College football fans and players both want full stadiums this fall,” Saban said in the public service announcement in May. “Let’s make sure we can safely make this happen by getting vaccinated. Please get your COVID-19 vaccine. We want Bryant-Denny Stadium loud again this coming season. Roll Tide!”
Despite the new incentives, universities in Alabama are taking a more relaxed approach to getting students and staff vaccinated.
The University of California system, which has 280,000 students and 227,000 faculty and staff across 10 campuses, will require vaccination for anyone who wants to return to campus in the fall, with some exceptions. The California State University system, which has nearly half a million students, also said it will require vaccinations earlier this week with certain exemptions.
Other schools across the country are also requiring vaccines, including the University System of Maryland, Wake Forest University in North Carolina, Rutgers University in New Jersey, and others.
Eight students at the University of Indiana sued the school last month over its vaccine requirement, but a federal judge ruled earlier this month that the Constitution “permits Indiana University to pursue a reasonable and due process of vaccination in the legitimate interest of public health” for its 90,000 students and 40,000 employees.