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Ingham County Commissioner wants to pay people $200 to get the COVID-19 vaccine

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Courtesy cchd.maryland.gov
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An Ingham County commissioner wants to pay people $200 to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

Under a proposal from Commissioner Mark Grebner, D-East Lansing, people getting new vaccinations would be paid using a portion of the county’s American Rescue Plan allotment. Ingham County expects to receive $56.7 million in two installments from that federal coronavirus relief package.

Some businesses are offering deals to promote inoculation. And the state of Michigan is running a lottery for immunized people with prizes of up to $2 million. Grebner, however, believes direct cash payments will be more effective.

“I want it to be enough that it would actually play a role in people's calculation,” he said. “I think it foolish, stupid even, to try to get people to do important things in exchange for a free hamburger or a lottery ticket that has an expected payout of five cents.”

A few days after Grebner introduced his proposal, President Joe Biden called upon state and local governments to pay people $100 each to get vaccinated against COVID-19. Biden said communities could use federal coronavirus relief money to do so.

About 55% of Ingham County residents ages 12 and older are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, which is slightly higher than the state average of 54%.

Grebner hopes commissioners approve the incentive program at their next meeting on Aug. 24. He says local officials must do whatever it takes to turn the corner on the pandemic.

“It almost seems like we're looking at a vista of permanent, smoldering COVID-19,” he said. “That would be a hell of a way to live.”

Ingham Health Officer Linda Vail declined to comment on Grebner's proposal while the matter is still pending before the county board.