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Harris County extending $100 vaccine incentive through September 30

Nearly 60,000 of those cards have been given out since the program’s launch on August 17.

HARRIS COUNTY, Texas — Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo extended the county’s vaccine incentive program through September 30, after it was originally supposed to end September 14.

Residents who get their first dose anywhere in the county can get a $100 cash gift card. They can check ReadyHarris.org to see if they qualify.

Nearly 60,000 of those cards have been given out since the program’s launch on August 17.

“We had up to 800% increase in individuals getting vaccinated at our vaccination sites,” Jennifer Kiger, of Harris County Public Health, said. “It has decreased a little bit, but we still see an increase in comparison to other counties within Texas of how many people are getting vaccinated and continue to get vaccinated with their first dose.”

Nearly 60 percent of Texans eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine were fully vaccinated as of Thursday.

In some counties, like Harris County, that number is even higher, at more than 62 percent. It’s the second-highest rate in the region behind Fort Bend County at more than 73 percent.

While Harris County is not offering an incentive for second doses, Kiger says all but three percent of people show up for it, compared to a statewide average of more than 11 percent.

“We contact individuals, remind them of their second dose appointment, and help them in any way we can to ensure that they get their second dose,” said Kiger.

On August 25, Houston Health Department launched their own incentive program: a $100 gift card for the first dose, $50 for the second, with enough money to pay 20,000 people.

So far, around 8,900 people have qualified.

“Before we were seeing maybe 100, 150 people show up a day, so now we’re doing 400, 450, and we could easily accommodate double,” said Porfirio Villarreal with Houston Health Department.

On Friday, an F-D-A advisory committee will meet to talk about recommending COVID-19 booster shots from Pfizer.

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