Kalamazoo event gives $50 gift cards for COVID-19 vaccinations

Kalamazoo County

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — A vaccine clinic in Kalamazoo was giving away $50 gift cards to people who received a COVID-19 vaccine.  

The three-hour Tuesday event was located in downtown Kalamazoo at the Radisson and was geared toward hospitality workers.  

It is a partnership between the Protect Michigan Commission, the Small Business Association of Michigan and the Michigan Restaurant and Lodging Association. This is the sixth event put on by the organizations across the state. 

Kalamazoo County Health and Community Services, Bell’s Brewery and the Kalamazoo Radisson served as local partners.  

Olivia Ankney, an employee at Cherri’s Chocol’art, learned about the opportunity to get the vaccine and the $50 Visa gift card from her boss. 

“That’s definitely probably something that’s making today really big,” Ankney said. “I was already planning on getting it after graduation and today happened to work out perfectly.” 

She hopes others unvaccinated people will find a place to get their shot. 

Kalamazoo County Health Officer Jim Rutherford says clinics have shifted from mass vaccination sites to smaller pop-up style clinics. 

He says the $50 gift cards, provided through private donations with no taxpayer dollars used, are helpful in the effort to reach herd immunity.  

“We need to be a little bit more, I think, thoughtful about how best to be able to make people comfortable to receive the vaccine,” Rutherford said. 

Debra Gardner, a former restaurant owner in Kalamazoo who now works in the beverage industry with a drink she created called YO!DRANK, says she waited to get the vaccine but decided she needed to no longer delay.

“It is a good thing to be able to have some type of incentive, because people are leery and if it’s something that can drive them and they can feel more comfortable,” Gardner said. 

Planning to sell her beverages at events across the country, she says being vaccinated will give her piece of mind.  

“I’m doing this for myself, my community, because I want to network here, internationally, wherever I need to do go so I want to be fully protected and for my cruise to the Bahamas,” Gardner said. 

Participants could choose between the Johnson and Johnson or Pfizer vaccine.

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