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Hamilton County starts offering gift cards to people getting COVID vaccine jabs

Posted at 3:25 PM, Aug 26, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-26 19:15:25-04

CINCINNATI — Money can be a great motivator. At least that's the hope in Hamilton County.

The Hamilton County Health Department is now offering monetary incentives to get people vaccinated against Covid-19.

"At first I was not sure about it," said Ricky Murphy, a Hamilton County resident. "I was thinking about getting it, but it's one of those things, I have to go out of my way to do it."

But the chance to make easy cash finally motivated him to step up and get the shot this week.

"And then they said $100. It's the end of the month," Murphy said. "I'm on Social Security; I only get paid at the end of the month."

On Thursday, Murphy and his mother, Anita, visited a Hamilton County Public Health vaccine clinic to receive their $100 gift cards given to people getting their first dose of protection.

Anita Murphy said she thinks the gift cards will help bring out others, too.

"Not all of them," she said. "But, the ones that haven't got it so far, I think it did."

Hamilton County Health Commissioner Greg Kesterman said the county dedicated $650,000 to the incentive program.

"We're still seeing a mix of folks that didn't know about it, but are super excited to be given a gift card when they're there to get a vaccine," Kesterman said. "And people that are coming specifically for a gift card."

The gift card program came about in Hamilton County as part of a larger push by the Ohio Health Department. The state department is encouraging local districts to incentivize vaccines and motivate hesitant people.

"This is a powerful vaccine," Kesterman said. "And I think there are various reasons why people are hesitant. Or sometimes folks just haven't made the time. And I think this gift card is just one more tool to push people over the edge to get vaccinated."

So far, about 64 percent of eligible Hamilton County residents are vaccinated, according to health officials. The Tri-State region as a whole is about 62 percent vaccinated.

"I believe this is a very good idea for real, because a lot of people are all about money," Ricky Murphy said. "And they're going to offer money. Then they're going to go."

For a list of Hamilton County vaccine clinics, visit