By Sue Favor
SOUTH LOS ANGELES — Being vaccinated against COVID-19 could pay dividends, thanks to one South Los Angeles business owner.
Those who can show proof of even one of the two shots necessary for immunity against the virus can dump up to 500 pounds of trash for free at Active Recycling, a savings of $100. Errol Segal, senior recycling consultant of the longtime business at 2000 W. Slauson Ave., said he wanted to create the incentive to become vaccinated in a community that has been reticent to receive it.
“For whatever reason, most Blacks and Latinos are avoiding taking the COVID-19 shot,” Segal said. “The shot is free and it works. It is available at most drug stores and other locations. Most people don’t get side effects. … Getting the shot is way better than getting COVID.”
Segal announced the initiative last week, and said that since then, the number of people taking him up on his offer has increased daily.
“The first day there was nothing, and the second day, we got two, then three” he said. “The word is getting out. People want that $100 savings.”
This isn’t the first time Segal has used a monetary incentive to bring people in. For the last five years, the business has allowed those participating in community clean-up efforts to bring in up to 500 pounds of trash for free for the first time. Segal said those who have done this can still take advantage of the vaccination offer and receive money.
“I will give them another (dump) free if they can show they’ve even had just the first shot,” Segal said.
The popular recycling center is in the heart of an area in which the average rate of full vaccination hovers around 50%, according to the latest data from the Los Angeles County Health Department. California has an overall vaccination rate of about 70%.
Segal said that besides hesitation to take the vaccine, there was also lack of access for a time.
“The people of South LA are underserved and not respected like they should be,” he said.
Over the last six weeks or so, however, vaccines have become widely available without appointment. Segal said the recycling center’s initiative “gives people a reason” to get the shots.
The recycling center joins a list of businesses offering gift cards or credits toward services for getting vaccinated, including Uber and Lyft rides and grocery and department stores. Gov. Gavin Newsom also has started a program called “Vax for the Win,” which gives those receiving shots chances at large cash prizes.
Segal said his offer is a chance for local residents to make a direct profit fairly easily.
“The vaccine is free — that’s what needs to be stressed,” he said.
Active Recycling is open daily from 5:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Sue Favor is a freelance reporter for Wave Newspapers, who covers South Los Angeles. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.