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Bozeman residents now have another incentive to get a COVID-19 vaccine beyond protecting themselves and others from a virus that’s now killed more than 660,000 Americans: cash prizes.

Well, gift card prizes. The city announced a vaccine incentive program Tuesday, both for those already vaccinated and those who have yet to get a shot.

Any city resident vaccinated before Sept. 15 can enter into a raffle to win a $1,000 Visa gift card. Anyone who gets vaccinated between Sept. 15 and Nov. 15 will be eligible to receive a $25 gift card and will also be entered into a lottery to win a $1,000 gift card.

Bozeman City Manager Jeff Mihelich announced the incentive program during Tuesday’s city commission meeting.

“The intent of it is simply this: to positively reward those who get vaccinated in our community,” Mihelich said. “We’re giving some people a monetary incentive to do that, and hopefully people might think, ‘Hm, I can make $1,025, might be worthwhile.’”

The program is funded through American Rescue Plan Act money allocated to Bozeman. City spokesperson Melody Mileur said the city does not have a total price tag for the project in mind yet, since it depends how many residents who get vaccinated claim a $25 gift card.

To enter the raffle or claim $25, residents can bring a proof of residency and vaccination to the finance department in city hall at 121 N. Rouse Avenue. Mileur said a piece of mail can be used to prove residency.

Though the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines require two shots to be fully effective, residents only have to bring proof of their first shot, Mileur said.

Vaccines are still widely available in Gallatin County including at local pharmacies — find an appointment at vaccines.gov — and through Bozeman Health primary care providers.

Montana State University is also holding vaccine clinics for faculty, students and staff.

More information on local vaccine availability is available through the Gallatin City-County Health Department at healthygallatin.org.

COVID-19 vaccines have proven to be safe and highly effective at protecting against the virus. Though fully vaccinated people can still get breakthrough cases, they are more protected from infection, hospitalization and death than unvaccinated people, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Anyone 12 and older is eligible for a vaccine. According to the health department, there are 99,225 people eligible for a vaccine in Gallatin County. Of those, 70% have received at least one dose and 59% are fully vaccinated.

Those percentages are drastically reduced in younger age groups. While 85% of those 80 and older are fully vaccinated, just 48% of those 18 to 29 and 36% of children 12 to 17 are fully vaccinated, according to health department data as of Sept. 3.

“If you haven’t gotten a vaccine, I would encourage you to do so, and to please encourage others to do that as well,” Mayor Cyndy Andrus said during Tuesday’s meeting. “I think that’s one thing we can do that would really make an impact on bringing those transmission levels down.”

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Nora Shelly can be reached at nshelly@dailychronicle.com or 406-582-2607.

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