Tens of thousands of Minnesotans who received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine since July 30 signed up for the state's $100 reward.
Gov. Tim Walz announced Monday that 79,810 people registered for the program, which was extended to Aug. 22 after proving popular — on the first day, more than 11,000 people registered and in the first five days, more than 30,000 people registered.
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Anyone who got their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine between July 30 and Aug. 22 could register to get $100 from the State of Minnesota.
The incentive program helped drive up the state's vaccinated rate over the past month, Gov. Tim Walz's administration said.
On Monday, the seven-day average for first doses administered is averaging 4,955 daily. A month ago, the seven-day average for first doses was 2,675.
It also was popular among people in counties with lower vaccination rates. Each county recorded at least 70 gift card requests, but the program was most popular per capita in Brown, Carlton, Sherburne, Mille Lacs and Chisago counties.
Those counties, with the exception of Carlton County, are lagging behind the statewide 16 and older vaccination rate, the governor's office said.
“The $100 incentive program was a great success. I am so pleased more Minnesotans have received their vaccine and are on their way to protecting themselves, their families, and their communities from COVID-19,” Gov. Walz said in a statement.
“Everybody in our state benefited from this incentive program, regardless of when they got their shot. The best way to manage COVID-19 is by vaccinating more of our friends and neighbors. This program went a long way toward increasing statewide vaccination rates and building the community program we need against the virus.”
The $100 reward incentive proved more popular than the previous state-run incentive program. More people applied for the $100 vaccine incentive program in the first five days than the total number of people who applied for the state's previous COVID-19 vaccine incentive program for the entire month of June.
During June, fewer than 20,000 people sought vaccine incentives, which included free fishing licenses, $25 gift cards or passes to ValleyFair, among other things.
The $100 incentive program uses federal funds from the American Rescue Plan and is something the White House has encouraged states to do, citing research from UCLA that found about one-third of unvaccinated people said a cash payment would make them more likely to get the vaccine.
When the program launched, the $100 reward was limited to the first 24,330 eligible submissions after Gov. Tim Walz said he'd authorize up to $2.5 million in federal American Rescue Plan money for this program. An additional $13.8 million was then approved for the vaccine incentive program.
State health officials continue to encourage unvaccinated Minnesotans to get the jab, especially as the delta variant has led to higher case counts and hospitalizations in Minnesota, prompting some businesses and cities to either require masks indoors or that people are vaccinated.
The COVID-19 vaccine is free for everyone. You can walk-in or make an appointment to get the jab via the state's Vaccine Connector here or use the state's vaccine locator map to find a provider near you. You can also call MDH's COVID-19 hotline at 1-833-431-2053.
As of Aug. 19, 58.9% of the state's total population has gotten at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. That includes children under the age of 12 who are not eligible for the vaccine. The state's vaccination percentage jumps to 69.6% when excluding kids under the age of 12. MDH has a public dashboard to track vaccine progress in Minnesota, and you can view it here.