UW-La Crosse launches COVID-19 vaccine incentive

LA CROSSE (WKBT) — The University of Wisconsin-La Crosse has launched a program aimed at getting more students vaccinated against COVID-19 by Oct. 15.

UW-L students who are fully vaccinated by mid-October could win prizes or scholarships under the program, which complements the UW System’s 70 for 70 campaign announced Sunday.

The campaign challenges UW campuses to achieve a 70% vaccination rate among students by Oct. 15.  Universities that hit that mark will be awarded a proportionate number of 70 $7,000 scholarships, based upon enrollment. If some universities fail to reach 70%, the share of scholarships will increase at universities that have met the threshold.  By reaching 70%, UWL would unlock at least seven $7,000 scholarships.

While UW-L is anticipating a much more normal 2021-22 school year, Chancellor Joe Gow said widespread vaccinations are crucial to staying on track and fully returning to normal.

“We are excited to be regaining a sense of normalcy, but we also know COVID-19 remains a serious threat to our campus and community,” Gow said. “High vaccination rates are the key to not only protecting health and safety, but returning to normal as quickly as possible. As they’ve done throughout the pandemic, I hope our students will lead by example and do their part.”

UW System Interim President Tommy Thompson stressed the importance of students getting vaccinated, especially with the Delta variant creating new challenges.

“As we welcome students back to campus this fall, we want their experience to be as normal and safe as we can make it,” Thompson said. “That means students should get vaccinated, and we will incentivize it knowing that high vaccination rates are critical to our success. The ‘70 for 70’ campaign is key to helping our universities achieve higher vaccination rates, especially in the face of the looming threat the Delta variant poses.”

To become eligible for the scholarships, students must complete a short survey and grant UW-L’s Student Health Center permission to confirm their vaccination status.

As of Monday, more than 3,000 UWL students have responded to the survey, with 85% indicating they are fully vaccinated. Another 6% say they are partially vaccinated or plan to get vaccinated.

UW-L and UW System are encouraging — but not requiring — student vaccinations. The 70% threshold is based upon estimates for reaching herd immunity, which indicates a base level of community-wide protection.