RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC)– A national effort to get as many people vaccinated as possible led two mayors to place a bet on which city can offer up the highest percentage of vaccinations.
The “Month of Action” vaccination challenge brought 100 mayors together to ramp up vaccination efforts. The United States Conference of Mayors (USCM) held the challenge from June 1st through the Fourth of July weekend.
Nan Whaley, the President of the USCM and Dayton, Ohio’s mayor, said she entered a bet with Mayor Levar Stoney during the challenge. Whichever city had the highest percentage of vaccinations at the end of the month will receive a six-pack of beer.
“In Dayton, we’ve had a challenge of getting folks to continue to push vaccination rates across our city,” Whaley said.
Dayton came out on top with 60% residents receiving vaccinations, amounting to 65,929 total adults getting the COVID-19 shot.
In Richmond, Stoney says 54.8% of the population received the vaccine. The number jumped three percent since June 1st when the Month of Action started, meaning 6,040 people received at least one shot during the challenge.
“We still have a number of people out there that are quite vulnerable to this Delta variant” Stoney said. “The real way to protect themselves is through getting vaccinated.”
Although Richmond fell short to Dayton’s vaccination percentage, Stoney says he sees just one shot as a win.
“The real victory is anytime a Richmonder or a Daytonian gets a shot that’s a victory for both cities. That’s a victory for our country,” he said.
Amy Popovich, Nurse Manager for the Richmond and Henrico Health Districts, says their education and outreach played a major role in getting those thousands of people vaccinated.
Canvassers reached out to 5,000 people to help them make their own decisions about the COVID-19 vaccine.
“That might’ve been knocking on someone’s door. That might’ve been seeing someone on the street. That might’ve been in a grocery store,” Popovich said. “Conversations about the vaccine, so really important for us to make sure you our residents and our neighbors have the information that you need.”
She said the city held 61 events by rolling out mobile vaccination clinics into neighborhoods, having ice cream and taco trucks at events and sending out cube crews.
This month also saw an increase in 12- to 17-year-olds getting the vaccine, because of the partnerships with area schools. George Wythe High School will continue to hold its vaccination clinic every Wednesday.
There will be vaccination clinics at River City Middle School and Martin Luther King, Jr. Middle School on Thursday, July 15.
Popovich said the clinics will offer all the school-required vaccines for students this year. This will allow families to easily get their shots ahead of the upcoming school year.
“The pandemic is not over,” Stoney said.