L.A. Unified to spend $5M on gift cards, prizes to encourage students to get COVID vaccine

Local news
Aidan Williams sits with son Ocean, 5, as he gets vaccinated by nurse Chelsea Meyer at Arleta High School. The clinic was part of L.A. Unified’s vaccination efforts, which include $5 million in incentives for families.(Myung J. Chun / Los Angeles Times)

Aidan Williams sits with son Ocean, 5, as he gets vaccinated by nurse Chelsea Meyer at Arleta High School. The clinic was part of L.A. Unified’s vaccination efforts, which include $5 million in incentives for families.(Myung J. Chun / Los Angeles Times)

With a student vaccination deadline days away — and about 72% in compliance — the Los Angeles Board of Education on Tuesday authorized an estimated $5 million for prizes and treats as incentives, including gift cards to Amazon and Target, tickets to “Hamilton” and food trucks on campus.

The incentive program, already underway, is part of a broad-based effort to boost vaccination rates by Nov. 21, the school district’s self-imposed deadline for students 12 and older to receive the first of two doses. Students must be fully vaccinated by the Jan. 10 start of the second semester, or they will not be allowed on campus. Their options would be to pursue their education outside of Los Angeles Unified or transfer to City of Angels, a district independent study program.

The incentives are mainly raffles, and anyone in compliance is eligible — meaning those who are vaccinated, have an approved medical exemption or have a rare authorized extension. Religious exemptions are not being granted.

Raffle prizes have also included gift cards to grocery stores; tickets to Disneyland, Magic Mountain and Universal Studios Hollywood, and graduation-night entertainment packages. Some of the money is being spent centrally, but regional administrators have funds to come up with their own plans. Some have brought in food trucks; Wilson High in El Sereno has logo T-shirts for every student who follows the rules.

Read the full story on LATimes.com.

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