INVESTIGATES: Paying people to get the COVID-19 vaccine

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Action News Jax is investigating whether state or local governments plan to give out money as an incentive to get people vaccinated.

On Thursday, Action News Jax reported the Biden administration wants to give $100 to unvaccinated people to get the vaccine and suggests states use money given to them from the federal COVID-19 recovery efforts to pay it.

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The City of Jacksonville told Action News Jax it is not offering incentives right now and doesn’t have plans to use money from recovery funds for any vaccine incentive program.

On an average day, getting $100 doesn’t sound too bad, but if it means getting the COVID-19 vaccine, Lucretia Chappell is turning it away.

“Honestly, in my opinion that’s what makes it suspect, that’s what scares me,” she said. “The incentives don’t matter, it’s health that matters.”

Action News Jax reported Wednesday the city will receive more than $300 million in federal funds from the American Rescue Plan, but again, there is no current plan to use it for vaccine incentives.

“I think 100 bucks is still something,” Linda Wiley said.

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In St. Johns County, Action News Jax was told in an emailed response the Board of County Commissioners has not made any policy decisions on the appropriation of the local American Rescue Plan funds, as the county hasn’t gotten them yet.

The county spokesperson said the CARES Act funding has already been budgeted.

The governor’s office told Action News Jax on Thursday there are no funds for the $100 incentive because all of the state recovery funds had been budgeted.

On Friday, we learned the governor’s office would not be pushing legislature to do something or call a special session, saying, “If the incentive was extended to everyone in Florida who already got vaccinated, it would be more than $1 billion already, without even starting on the new people who get vaccinated from this day forward.”

President Joe Biden recommended the money only be given to new people who get the vaccine.

“I understand why he’s doing it because he has to go to the next level, it’s just a little tough because the people who procrastinated get a little more,” Wiley said.

Action News Jax went into City Hall for the Mayor’s public schedule. He only had one appointment from 8-9 a.m. and a phone call scheduled at 3 p.m., but his office was not able to fit us in for an interview.