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'I was going to do it anyway': Students take advantage of $200 vaccination incentive at GRCC

2,000 students signed up to receive the incentive in just a week and a half.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Grand Rapids Community College requires everyone to wear a mask inside their facilities, but they are not requiring vaccinations for students as the school year starts. Instead, they are incentivizing students to get the shots.

“We're a different type of campus than the four-year schools that have residence halls, and people are packed together,” said David Murray, a GRCC spokesperson.

Any vaccinated student, whether they attend classes in person, through a hybrid learning model or fully online is eligible for the money. It will be given in the form of a $200 credit to Raider Cards, which can be used to purchase things like parking and food on campus, and can be spent like cash at the campus bookstore.

Within the first week and a half of being available, more than 2,000 of the 10,000 eligible students signed up for the incentive by submitting a photo of their vaccine card.

"I could put $200 towards a laptop that just didn't have before," says Avrey Smith, a junior at GRCC. "All because I just got a shot.”

Smith says his original hesitation to get the vaccine was a fear of needles. The email he got from the school helped to reaffirm his decision. He says he's not a fan of vaccine requirements like some other schools around the state have, but says this is a nice middle ground.

Saturday the campus hosted Raider Rally, a welcome week event where students can get resources and learn more about what GRCC has to offer. As a part of the event, a vaccination clinic was held for anyone to walk up and get any of the three available vaccines.

Ryleigh Kielbson says he also was hesitant to get the vaccine, both due to self proclaimed laziness and a fear of needles. He received his first dose at the event and says he was shocked by how little he could feel the shot. He also says the monetary incentive helped push him over the fence.

"It's only like $3.50 per day for parking," he said. "So it's pretty much like the entire year is covered.”

Students who received vaccination prior to the rollout of the incentive are still eligible, and the deadline to get the money is full vaccination by Nov. 15.

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