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Weeks after gift cards boosted immunization rates in some counties, North Carolina considers vaccine lottery

Weeks after announcing that four North Carolina counties, including Mecklenburg, would start offering $ 25 gift cards as incentives at COVID-19 vaccination clinics, Governor Roy Cooper is expected to announce a vaccine lottery on Thursday. afternoon.

This would increase the incentives intended to attract people to get vaccinated against the coronavirus.

Earlier this month at a Charlotte vaccination clinic, Cooper said he was planning to run a vaccine lottery, similar to the $ 1 million draw in Ohio for the vaccinated. Cooper is expected to announce a raffle for the vaccinated at 3 p.m. Thursday.

The $ 25 gift card initiative, the state’s first vaccination incentive, was launched on May 26 in Rowan, Guilford and Rockingham counties in addition to Mecklenburg.

As of June 8, StarMed Healthcare in Mecklenburg County had distributed $ 74,300 in gift cards, or nearly 3,000 cards to vaccinees and drivers. And Mecklenburg County Public Health began offering $ 25 gift cards to select immunization clinics starting June 2.

The incentive for gift cards has proven to be even more effective than expected, Mecklenburg County Public Health Director Gibbie Harris told county commissioners on Tuesday.

“All of our clinics where we have had payment cards available over the past week have seen significant increases,” she said.

NC Gov. Roy Cooper is expected to announce a vaccine lottery to track the COVID-19 vaccine gift card program.

This includes a clinic at the Northwestern Department of Health. The week before offering gift cards, that clinic administered vaccines to two people, Harris said.

This number increased when the clinic began offering gift cards. Last week, the clinic served 40 people, she said.

Yet state data shows the vaccination rate in Mecklenburg and the other three counties offering gift cards has slowed in recent weeks.

But gift cards were only made available at a few clinics in each county.

A helping hand to those on the fence

The Rockingham County Public Health Division has offered 150 gift cards since May 25. In addition to its own clinics, the county has also run clinics at two community sites, McMichael High School and Mill Ave. Recreation Center, June 5 with gift cards.

“Personally, I think it’s a great incentive offered by the state. Especially for those (who) are on the fence and / or have transportation as a barrier, ”county health education program manager Katrina White said in an email.

The county processed 747 vaccines in May and 186 in June on Thursday, including the second doses. But White said nominations are fluid and it’s too early to tell the effect of the incentive.

Rowan and Guilford County officials did not immediately respond to the observer.

NC COVID vaccination rate

As of Wednesday, 54% of North Carolina residents aged 18 and older received at least one injection of COVID-19, according to data from the state’s Department of Health and Human Services.

This is still well below President Joe Biden’s proposed vaccination target of 70% of adults vaccinated by July 4.

And that’s one of the reasons the governor is pushing for additional incentives for vaccines.

“Remember, when you get this vaccine, not only are you protecting yourself, you are protecting your family, friends, and anyone else you may come in contact with,” Cooper said on June 3. “… We have people dying almost every day – again – from this virus, so it’s not over yet. “

David Raynor of (Raleigh) News & Observer contributed

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