In an effort to boost COVID-19 vaccination rates within the Los Angeles Fire Department, personnel who receive both doses of the Moderna vaccine will be entered into a raffle to win cash for their station and prizes for themselves.
In a Dec. 29 memo, which was obtained by the Los Angeles Times, Chief Ralph Terrazas said up to 10 task force stations where all members have received both doses will be eligible for $1,000, and 10 fire stations where all members receive the doses will be eligible for $500.
The raffle will take place on Feb. 12. Individuals at the department who have received both doses by then will be entered into the raffle to receive Aventon fixed-gear bicycles, $100 Airbnb gift cards, $100 Lyft gift cards, Canary security cameras and Google Nest entertainment systems.
"I strongly encourage all members to take advantage of the department's COVID-19 vaccination program for their own protection, as well as that of their families and the public we serve,'' Terrazas wrote in the memo.
On Dec. 28, the Los Angeles Fire Department announced it received 3,200 doses of the Moderna vaccine, which Mayor Eric Garcetti said was enough to administer first doses to "virtually everybody'' at the LAFD.
Terrazas said then that the department expected the vaccine to be offered to all of its firefighters within two weeks. The department has 3,246 uniformed fire personnel and 353 other employees, according to its website.
In a survey of 1,400 fire department personnel, 90% of responders said they would sign up for the voluntary vaccinations, according to Garcetti.
As of Monday, 1,625 firefighters, or 46.1%, had received the first dose of the vaccine, according to LAFD spokesman Peter Sanders. The first dose is being offered through Friday.
"The Fire Department is a reflection of society. There are some people who are reluctant because of fear of the unknown," Terrazas told The Times. "I was talking to a firefighter yesterday and I asked him what his reluctance is. He said he wanted to see if there were any side effects. I sent him a link to the CDC website. I think he will see that the data shows that it's extremely rare to have a side effect."
Terrazas also told The Times that the department is not ruling out the possibility of mandating firefighters to get the vaccine.
"I would rather have voluntary compliance,'' he said. "At the end of the day, there is the possibility of a mandate.''