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St. Louis city and county COVID-19 vaccination clinics now offer gift cards as incentives

Many people who stood in line to get a shot Saturday claimed they weren't aware of the financial incentive program

ST. LOUIS — Show me the money!

That could have been the theme starting Saturday in St. Louis city and county clinics where gift cards now serve as an incentive to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

Outside the 12th and Park Recreation Center, there was a line out the door to the COVID-19 vaccination clinic. It was not yet 10 a.m.

When Heather Sand was asked why she waited this long to get vaccinated, she responded, “It’s a good question. I wasn’t sure about it, I guess.”

While waiting in line, Mike Peifer was asked if he was getting vaccinated today because of the gift cards.

“Are they giving out gift cards?” said Peifer. “That’s great.”

People who turn out vaccination clinics in the city will now walk out with a $100 gift card.

Orlando Smith said, “My mom stayed on me to get it. So, I thought I would come today to get it.”

Does the gift card help?

“To be honest, yes,” said Smith, “I was going to get the shot next week, but this is an added plus.”

A man who identified himself as Steve Johnson was inside, going through the registration process with a nurse, then he got the shot.

“Not too bad at all,” he said, leaning back in his chair and rolling down his sleeve. “Can’t even tell.”

Forty-five minutes later, as he was leaving the building, Steve held up his gift card and showed why some people waited until today.

Was it worth it?

“Oh yeah,” said Steve. “Couple hours, tops.”

“I’m already vaccinated,” said Liz Lesaulnier. “I’m a teacher.” Lesaulnier was there because it was her oldest son’s twelfth birthday. And he got vaccinated. “I just wanted to be protected from COVID,” said Andrew Lesaulnier. “I had it once, and it wasn’t fun.”

At vaccination clinics in St. Louis County, the gift cards are not given out on location. Instead, they are mailed to the person’s home, later. At the Rock Road location of the St. Louis County Library, a sign inside explained the county incentive program offers $150 worth of gift cards.

RELATED: St. Louis rolls out COVID-19 vaccine incentive program

Twelve-year-old Karth Chirunomula needed no such incentive.

“If I get the vaccine,” said Chirunomula,” I will have a lower chance of getting COVID-19, which will prevent me from spreading it to my neighbors.”

A nurse at the county clinic gave people a good piece of advice – take a picture of the front and back of your vaccine card, so you have a record in case you lose it.