Harris County offers $100 gift cards to encourage COVID-19 vaccinations

Posted at 2:41 PM, Aug 17, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-17 15:41:48-04

In a bid to jumpstart stalled vaccinations in Texas’ most populous county and provide relief to the region’s stressed hospitals, Harris County officials will offer $100 gift cards to residents who get their first COVID-19 shot.

“We’re making it as easy as possible,” County Judge Lina Hidalgo said at a Tuesday news conference. “There’s really no excuse.”

Across the state, local officials have grown desperate for ways to convince more people to get vaccinated as the highly contagious delta variant puts more people in hospital beds and hospitals scramble to find enough workers to care for a surge of COVID-19 patients.

The overwhelming majority of those hospitalized, hospital officials and health experts have said, are unvaccinated. Less than half of Harris County residents are fully vaccinated.

County officials have set aside $2.3 million for the county’s vaccine incentive program — enough to put first doses in about 23,000 arms.

President Joe Biden has encouraged cities and counties to dip into federal stimulus dollars to pay for $100 in incentives. In Texas, Austin will soon have its own vaccine incentive program while San Antonio is weighing a program of its own.

This article was originally published by the Texas Tribune: