Several protest vaccine incentive outside school district office in Anderson Co.

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ANDERSON COUNTY, S.C. (WSPA) – Several people in Anderson County are protesting a vaccine incentive Thursday morning.

Protesters in front of Anderson School District five’s district office responded to Superintendent Tom Wilson’s announcement to give students $100 if they take the vaccine.

Many were also honking their horns riding by.

“What they’re doing is wrong we should not be paying out children to get the shot that is not good for them, and kids being kids are going to grab the $100 and not think about the consequence,” said Jackie Zasadny, protester.

“I don’t think it’s right at all. Like it shouldn’t be bribed, it really shouldn’t,” said Hayleigh, an Anderson School District Five student.

“We’re not bribing anybody. You know the parents have to agree for their child to receive this incentive,” said Superintendent Tom Wilson, Anderson School District Five. “They have to sign and agree for the student to receive this incentive.”

“You know, it’s a possibility that a child might sign their parent’s name and try to get it anyway,” said Crystal Dillard, parent, and former employee in the district.

“I’m sure when you look at a document they’re going to try to figure out if this is forged or not and make necessary calls. I’m not sure if they’re calling everyone, but I’m sure if there’s something that they suspect, that’s forged, they’ll follow up on it,” Wilson said.

Dillard said she doesn’t agree with any of the incentives, adding that it’s the reason she left the district last year.

“I was employed with district five up until the end of last school year when they offered us $500 to get the shot. I thought it was in very poor taste because I feel like it opens up the door for discrimination,” Dillard said.

“I hope the school board just re-evaluates this, and other school boards do not do what school board five is doing here,” said Pete Zasadny, protester.

“My number one goal, is number one, to keep kids safe and be able to have school, and when we close school, it’s a burden on parents particularly,” Wilson said. “What you saw today, was a small portion of this community. We’ve had numerous calls, emails. I’ve got texts. You know, we support you. The medical community supports you,” Wilson added.

State House Representative Jonathon Hill, and others are demanding changes now.

“I share my constituent’s concerns and I want them to know that I stand in solidarity,” said State Rep. Jonathon Hill, House District Eight, Anderson County. “My initial reaction was shocked that he would do this and I was shocked that he would do it without getting the board behind him first and without getting the community behind him first,” he said. “He needs to immediately rescind this policy and he needs to make some apologies to the parents and to the staff, to the community. If that doesn’t happen I’m encouraging my constituents to be back out here next week with twice as many, and I’ll be back out here with them.”

During the protest, Anderson School District Five passed around a sign-up sheet to give the community an opportunity to meet Wilson and voice their concerns.

“So we’re going to meet with anybody that wants to meet with me. My door is open, and I’ll listen to them and I’m sure we’ll agree to disagree, but I have no intention of backing up on this. I think that would be an injustice to the kids and the parents that have bought in,” Wilson said.

Wilson said the incentive was never voted on by the school board, but said they have supported the effort.

“They were aware of what we wanted to do and I believe administratively I had that authority to do that,” Wilson said. “We never voted on it. The board did not vote on it. I told them what I was going to do administratively and it was overwhelming support.”

Representative Hill said he is working on a statewide bill to address issues like this.  

Protesters with the Medical Freedom Rally group said they will continue their fight at the national, “Will You Stand Rally” on Sunday. The rally will be held in Greenville at Falls Park from 3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.

We’ll continue to update this story.

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