Hennepin County will invest $100,000 to provide incentives for residents to get the COVID-19 vaccine.
The Hennepin County Board of Commissioners approved a resolution Tuesday that authorizes the use of funds from the American Rescue Plan Act, passed by Congress in March, to provide vaccine incentives.
“... the vaccine incentive programs proposed will be designed to build trust between Hennepin County and its residents with the goal of increasing vaccination rates,” the resolution reads.
“While time is of the essence with respect to curbing COVID-19 transmission in communities via vaccination, designing a vaccine incentive program requires thoughtful engagement with trusted partners in order to tailor incentives to the needs of the communities served.”
The county is aiming to establish the incentive program starting July 1. The current proposal would authorize the $100,000 in federal funding for incentives including vaccine events featuring free meals, groceries and entertainment.
The proposal also calls for “Thank You” packs for residents who receive the vaccine.
The packs would be tailored to specific local populations and could include gift cards to local businesses, gifts for youth, sports-related gifts or technology-related gifts, according to the resolution.
Hennepin County has one of the highest vaccination rates in the state, with 74% of those aged 12+ having gotten at least one shot, however there remain race-based disparities when it comes to vaccine take-up.
“Our commitment to disparity reduction will require a laser focus on enhancing community-led vaccination sites, and rebuilding trust in communities that have historically experienced medical exploitation, un-consented experimentation, and marginalization,” said Hennepin County Commissioner Chris LaTondresse in a statement.
“We clearly have some work to do. This action will give public health just one more tool, to build that trust and reduce disparities.”
The actions comes after the state implemented a similar vaccine incentive program in an effort to reach vaccination targets.
Minnesota’s “Your Shot to Summer” program offers the first 100,000 residents age 12 and older who receive their vaccine between May 27 and June 30 rewards including Great Lakes Aquarium pass, a Nickelodeon Universe Pass, State Fair tickets, a Minnesota Fishing License or a Visa gift card.
According to a Tuesday update from the Minnesota Department of Health, 2,998,667 Minnesotans have received at least 1 dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. And 2,759,751 Minnesotans, or around 50% of the total population, have completed the vaccine series.