(The Center Square) – Gov. Tim Walz announced the conclusion of Minnesota’s $100 COVID-19 vaccine incentive program that drew nearly 80,000 Minnesotans to get a first injection since July 30.
The program has appeared to help boost Minnesota’s vaccination rate over the past month. The seven-day average for first doses administered was 2,675 one month ago compared to a current average of 4,955 first doses daily.
Walz announced the program on July 29. Walz initially authorized $2.5 million in federal American Rescue Plan funding to start the rewards program and the Legislative COVID-19 Response Commission approved an additional $13.8 million.
The program was popular among Minnesotans whose vaccination rates are lower than the statewide average. While every Minnesota county recorded at least 70 gift card requests, the program was most popular per capita in Brown, Carlton, Sherburne, Mille Lacs, and Chisago counties, according to state officials. With the exception of Carlton County, each of these counties lags behind the statewide 16-and-older vaccination rate by between 5 and 21 percentage points.
Nearly 80% of incentive requests came from Minnesotans under the age of 50, whose vaccination rates trail those of older Minnesotans.
In total, the program garnered 79,810 submissions.
“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,” 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.”
About 70.9% of Minnesotans ages 16 and older have received a first injection.
Although fully-vaccinated Minnesotan can still contract COVID-19, the goal of the vaccine is to reduce hospitalizations and death so hospitals won’t be overwhelmed. State data says as of July 25, more than 3 million Minnesotans were fully vaccinated. Of those, just .321% of fully vaccinated residents contracted COVID-19, while .023% were hospitalized, and .002% died of COVID-19.