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South Thomaston Will Pay Residents, Frequent Visitors $200 To Get Vaccinated Against COVID-19

Gregory Rec
Pool/Portland Press Herald

The town of South Thomaston is going to pay residents and frequent visitors $200 to get vaccinated against COVID-19. The Midcoast town already has a relatively high vaccination rate, but local officials say it needs to be higher to beat back the virus.

According to the Maine CDC's vaccination dashboard, 78% of South Thomaston's residents are vaccinated. Select board chair John Spear says if you consider the population that's actually eligible, that rate is likely even higher. But town officials want to do more to extinguish the virus. And Spear says the idea to pay people to get vaccinated emerged from conversations with residents who said they just hadn't gotten around to it, and from President Joe Biden's request that local governments offer cash incentives using federal American Rescue Act funds. Spear says South Thomaston's program isn't just for residents.

"We're trying to be pretty liberal about this. Even people who frequently visit here. I'm thinking about delivery truck drivers, or tradesman where most of their accounts are in South Thomaston but they live in another town. Maybe caregivers. I mean the idea is to get shots into people's arms," Spear says.

Spear says to qualify for the $200, applicants must get at least one shot by September 12 and be fully vaccinated before they receive payment. He says even if the program only encourages a handful of people, he'll be happy.