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Austin Public Health Is Offering Up To $100 In H-E-B Gift Cards As Vaccine Incentives

A man received a shot of the COVID-19 vaccine.
Gabriel C. Pérez
Dell Medical School Doctor Oliver Fannin receives a shot of the COVID-19 vaccine on Dec. 15. Austin Public Health is going to offer up to $100 in H-E-B gift cards as incentives for people to get vaccinated.

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People who get vaccinated against COVID-19 will now receive H-E-B gift cards, Austin Public Health said in a city memo Tuesday.

Health officials said people who get a COVID-19 vaccine during an APH event and complete an exit survey will receive a $50 gift card. The incentive applies to both first and second doses, so people could pocket up to $100 in gift cards, officials said.

Officials said they've seen vaccine incentives work in other states and are now following their lead.

The new program is an effort to increase local vaccination rates as coronavirus cases continue to climb rapidly due to the highly contagious delta variant. Only about 64% of people 12 and older in Travis County are fully vaccinated, and rising hospitalization numbers have placed the Austin area back at the highest risk level of COVID-19.

Austin Public Health officials said they believe the majority of people who wanted to get a COVID-19 vaccine have already received one, but many of those who still haven't are in the "moveable middle.” The goal of the program is to reach out to this group in particular and encourage them to get vaccinated.

APH said it will also ramp up efforts to educate the community on the safety and efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccine, dispel myths and misinformation, and help people feel more comfortable about their decision to get a shot.

Prior to the program's launch, APH partnered with Central Health to distribute gift cards during vaccination events. Central Health plans to spend this month reviewing more than 1,200 survey responses to determine how effective incentive programs are.

Here's a list and calendar of APH vaccine events happening daily.

Dani Matias is a former producer and fill-in host for KUT's Morning Edition show.
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