Need a reason to get the COVID-19 vaccine? How about getting paid to get it?
City and county officials are now incentivizing the COVID-19 vaccine programs by offering Houston and Harris County residents gift cards aimed at getting residents vaccinated as the COVID-19 virus continues to wreak havoc on the community.
The Houston Health Department will provide gift cards valued at $100 to people who get their first dose administered at an eligible HHD site starting Aug. 26. They will receive gift cards valued at $50 when after receiving their second dose at an eligible HHD site.
People will have to have received their first dose on or after Aug. 2 and complete the series within 42 days to receive the second dose incentive.
Harris County will offer $100 gift cards to residents who get fully vaccinated at their sites.
The gift card incentive program is funded by the American Rescue Plan Act. Cards will be provided at the time of the second dose of Moderna or Pfizer vaccine or with the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine, an HHD news release stated.
The Food and Drug Administration approved the Pfizer vaccine Aug. 23. Employees with a city Cigna plan can earn $25 in healthy awards funds. Learn more here
The City Council approved the new incentive program, spearheaded by Mayor Sylvester Turner, in a 15-2 vote at its meeting Aug. 25.
“With the more contagious Delta variant rapidly spreading and cases surging, it is critically urgent that we vaccinate more people in our community,” Turner said. “It is in everyone’s best interest that all eligible Houstonians get vaccinated to save lives. If an incentive will motivate those who are not yet vaccinated to get their shots, it’s an investment that benefits everyone.”
Dr. David Persse, chief medical officer for the City of Houston, said the Delta Variant is different from the original virus because it is much more contagious. Even some vaccinated people have been infected. Although vaccinated people’s infections are generally much less severe, they can still spread it to others.
“While this can seem discouraging, it’s important to remember the vaccines prevent almost everyone who gets a breakthrough infection from serious illness and death. Vaccines are the best tool to protect you and those around you,” he said.
Persse added it was vital that people get both doses of a two-dose series for the best protection.
“Full vaccination is extremely effective at preventing people from getting seriously ill or dying from COVID-19,” he said.
The Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines are currently authorized for people ages 18 and older, while Pfizer is approved for people ages 12 and older. Vaccination of minors requires parental consent forms, available at the clinics.
Getting vaccinated is free and does not require ID, proof of residency, citizenship, or insurance.
Houston Health Department-affiliated COVID-19 vaccination sites are available with or without appointments. Locations are available at HoustonEmergency.org or by calling 832-393-4220.