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Austin Public Health offers vaccine incentives

Tuesday, August 10, 2021 by Jo Clifton

Austin Public Health is offering $50 HEB gift cards to people who receive Covid-19 vaccinations at APH community vaccination sites and fill out a survey afterwards. Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccinations require two separate shots to be effective. Those who come back for their second shot will receive a second HEB gift card worth $50. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine requires only one shot.

As of Monday night, Travis County was reporting 92,806 cases of Covid-19 with 557 people hospitalized. On July 9, there were 85,199 cases and 89 people hospitalized with the virus. Public health leaders have warned that the situation is dire, with most of the area’s intensive care beds full.

Austin Public Health interim Director Adrienne Sturrup told the Travis County Commissioners Court Monday that some of the ZIP codes that were lagging behind in vaccinations were beginning to catch up. Overall, she said APH is seeing small increases in the percentage of people getting vaccinated, though a large number of Austin ZIP codes now show a 70 percent vaccination rate.

Sturrup said she was particularly happy about the increased vaccination rate in Del Valle. In a memo to the mayor and City Council, Sturrup wrote that APH “believes that the vast majority of community members who want to be vaccinated against Covid-19 have already done so. Many of the remaining community members are in the ‘movable middle.’ By offering this gift card incentive, APH hopes this population will be motivated to protect themselves and others by getting vaccinated.”

As an enhancement, APH staff members will reach out to educate people on the safety and efficacy of the vaccines and combat misinformation so people are more comfortable with getting vaccinated.

Sturrup noted that one week after announcing a plan to award five $1 million lottery prizes and five full college scholarships, the state of Ohio increased its vaccination rate by 28 percent. New Mexico also saw increased vaccination rates when it offered $100 incentives.

Sturrup said prior to launching the current program, APH partnered with Central Health to provide gift cards to people getting vaccinated. Central Health will spend the month of August analyzing the 1,200-plus surveys it collected at vaccination sites to determine how effective the incentive is. Central Health staffers also said they noticed an increase in attendance at the events since offering the incentives.

Mayor Steve Adler suggested last week that the city should give stipends to city employees to get vaccinated as well as employees who are already vaccinated. The estimated cost of this program is $1.7 million.

“APH is increasing the incentive it’s offering to help the hesitant choose to vaccinate because it’s so important. The vaccine is free, a hospital stay is not,” Adler told the Austin Monitor. “In fact, the vaccine can actually put a little money in your pocket.”

Visit this page to find out where to get vaccinated today.

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