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Open Arms Healthcare offers $50 incentive at vaccine event in Biloxi

Published: Sep. 16, 2021 at 9:21 PM CDT
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BILOXI, Miss. (WLOX) - Many people rushed to the Mississippi Coast Coliseum to roll up their sleeves to get vaccinated. The Open Arms Healthcare Center gave out first and second doses of the Pfizer vaccine.

The clinic made sure to bring over 400 doses of the vaccine because workers said they’ve exceeded expectations from their previous vaccine event in August.

Workers said that they’ve noticed more participation due to the state leading in COVID-19 deaths per capita throughout the nation.

Open Arms Healthcare Clinic Director Byron Johnson said the clinic wanted to have an incentive to bring more people to get the shot.

“It’s horrible, especially with the kids getting it more. The hospitalization rates are horrible, we don’t even have beds available in any of facilities so we’ve definitely had to find a way and work as a team to stop this,” said Johnson, “We felt with the $50 Visa gift card it could motivate people to come out and actually get the vaccine versus nothing at all. Some people have different opinions and not the right information, so we figured we can give people a give card and give the right information.”

Biloxi resident Tracey Johnson came to the event after attending his vaccinated cousin’s funeral who passed due to COVID-19.

“It’s hitting real close to home. It’s all around and it seems like it’s just a matter of time when you catch if you haven’t caught it yet. Everybody is catching it and you have to make sure you’re taken care of,” said Tracey.

Tracey said after watching WLOX’s reports on recent COVID-19 deaths, he made sure to rush to the Mississippi Coast Coliseum.

“I’m really fed up with this, I’m ready for this to be over,” said Tracey. “I just wish that everyone would just go ahead and take the vaccine and get it over with so we can get back to our lives.”

Johnson explained that he’s had a fear of needles, which made him hesitant to get the vaccine. However, he knew if he wanted to be around family members, who many have health conditions, he would have to face his fears.

“I’ve been scared because of the needles, but I said that this is something I want to do. I love my family and I want to protect my family even though I haven’t caught anything,” said Tracey. “I have a lot of family members who have a lot of pre-existing health conditions, and I don’t want to be the reason why they’re going to glory. I don’t want my family to be scared of me because the world is turning into the vaccinated against the unvaccinated.”

Now, Tracey said he has left the event with peace of mind and feels comfortable about being around his loved ones.

The center received funding from the Health Resources Service Administration for more than 400 gift cards.

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