TRI-CITIES, Tenn. (WJHL) – In recent weeks, vaccination rates across the region have risen. What once seemed like a stall in vaccine distribution has now skyrocketed in terms of people finally rolling up their sleeves to get their dose, but some businesses and organizations believe more persuading is needed to vaccinate those who seem hesitant about the shot.

In an attempt to convince the public to get the vaccine, a number of establishments and institutions are in turn offering incentives.

ETSU is the most recent institution to join in offering incentives and announced the new ‘ETSU Vaccine Challenge’ on Thursday.

With students and faculty set to return to campus in less than two weeks, university officials are appealing to the public to not only get the shot but educate themselves about it. While the vaccine cannot be mandated by the university, they are strongly recommending students and staff get it and hope scholarship funds, free ETSU gear and even the potential for a reserved campus parking spot helps to motivate the masses.

All students and faculty have to do is fill out the online questionnaire to enter.

“They are entered into a drawing and they’ll have several types of prizes. There are some cash prizes and other types of incentives, and the drawings will take place throughout the fall semester,” said ETSU spokesperson, Joe Smith.

ETSU isn’t the only institution offering incentives. Select school districts are offering them as well.

Bristol Virginia Public Schools has launched a vaccine incentive program among their athletic and club organizations. If a student gets vaccinated, $100 will be donated back to their athletic program or club. There are also incentives for staff who roll up their sleeve.

“For all employees who have been vaccinated or get vaccinated for the first time, we will be providing them with a $500 incentive,” said Bristol Virginia Public Schools Superintendent, Keith Perrigan.

Beef ‘O’ Brady’s in Kingsport is participating in a company-wide vaccination incentive program that awards those who are fully vaccinated with a $200 gift card. Employees told News Channel 11 that any extra money helps, especially as the nation continues to navigate the pandemic.

“Some of us have struggled, some of us didn’t get unemployment. So $200 extra, that’s a lot. It’s going to encourage people that more than likely wouldn’t get the vaccine to get it,” said Beef ‘O’ Brady’s employee, Tressa Lawson.

The pandemic brought attention to the fact that restaurant workers are also frontline workers and getting the vaccine not only protects staff but the customers as well.

“It keeps our staff safe, and it also keeps our guests safe so people can feel good when they come into our restaurants knowing that our staff has some sort of incentive to push them to become vaccinated,” said Stephanie Gregg, Beef ‘O’ Brady’s Kingsport General Manager.

Along with the vaccine challenge, ETSU will continually hold vaccine clinics throughout the year on campus in order to ensure the vaccine is accessible to those who want it.

“We want to make sure that they are aware of their opportunities and this is the best thing that they can do to protect their own health,” said Smith.