Hennepin County, citing wide vaccination rate disparities between ZIP codes, is offering up to $100 in VISA gift cards to anyone who gets vaccinated at county events over the next six weeks.
So who can get the gift cards, and how?
Hennepin County says every age 12 and older is eligible to get a $50 VISA gift card when they receive a first or second COVID-19 vaccine dose at a Hennepin County vaccine event. This means, if someone gets both doses, they get two $50 gift cards.
This incentive program will go from July 1 through Aug. 15 — or until the gift card allotment runs out. The COVID-19 vaccine is free for everyone.
To get this instant reward, a person has to receive the vaccine at a county vaccination event. There is a list of upcoming events on the website, including in Brooklyn Center, Brooklyn Park, Richfield, Rogers, Minnetonka and Maple Grove in the weeks ahead.
You do not need to be a Hennepin County resident to get the shot and gift card.
Broadly speaking, Hennepin County says the goal of the incentives program is to "raise the overall vaccination rate in our county and the state." But officials are also targeting disparities in vaccination rates between races and neighborhoods.
According to the latest data from the state, more than 64% of people in Hennepin County (including those under 12 who aren't eligible) have received at least one dose of a COVID vaccine. That's one of the three highest vaccination rates in the state.
But, as Hennepin County points out, there are 19 ZIP codes in the county where fewer than six in 10 residents have gotten even just one dose. And in five ZIP codes in Minneapolis and Brooklyn Center, the vaccination rate is still below 50%.
By "closing the vaccination gap within communities and neighborhoods hardest hit by COVID-19," the county says in its release, "we can limit where the virus – especially the variants of concern – can continue to circulate and make people sick."
Gov. Tim Walz's initial goal of a 70% statewide adult vaccination rate by July 1 — which mirrors the White House's target of a nationwide 70% vaccination rate come July 4 — went unmet.
Through June 28, 66.9% of people age 16 and up in the state had received at least one dose of the vaccine.