Money shot: Getting vaccinated could earn you cash at Cape Breton University

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Cape Breton University, in Sydney, N.S., is offering cold, hard cash as an incentive for students to get their COVID-19 vaccines.

The university has launched an online contest so that students who get vaccinated or tested have a shot at the grand prize.

"If a student gets vaccinated or tested, they can send in the information to our team and their name gets entered into one of four prizes - $5,000 is the grand prize," explains Judy Kelley, manager of health and counselling.

Cassie Gillis is a CBU student who has already submitted entries - both for her vaccination and for testing.

Gillis says a cash prize like that would make a big difference towards tuition, so she expects plenty of other students will take part.

"That incentive alone is just going to be enough to like, push people over the edge," says Gillis.

"No one can say that $5,000 isn't a lot of money, especially for a student, and in your undergrad, that's completely changing to whether or not you would have to apply for a student loan."

Peter Halpin is executive director of the Association of Atlantic Universities. Halpin says while each Maritime post-secondary school has its own culture, something like this could catch on.

"Well, I think it's an innovative and great idea," says Halpin.

"It wouldn't surprise me if other universities in the region and across the country undertake similar vaccine promotion programs."

At Cape Breton University, the response so far has been good with more than 300 entries in the first 24 hours.

Officials say students can enter as many times as they get tested, or vaccinated, and having numbers go up on campus, is a win-win.

"We're really excited about the opportunity to open it up and get things moving again here on campus," says Kelley.

"So the more people who are vaccinated, and the more people who are tested, the faster that's going to happen."

For Gillis, who finished her undergrad degree during the pandemic and is now starting a new one, she just wants campus life to be back to normal sooner than later.

"Capers - get out there, get vaccinated. Get tested. And let's flatten the curve together," says Gillis.

The contest runs until September 4.