Health

Cash incentive leads to 6.3% COVID vaccination rate increase

Since the program began last month, 2,325 residents have received at least one dose.
An empty waiting area at the San Benito County Public Health Services vaccination site. Photo by Noe Magaña.
An empty waiting area at the San Benito County Public Health Services vaccination site. Photo by Noe Magaña.

San Benito County’s $200 incentive to get residents fully vaccinated against COVID-19 has increased the vaccination rate by 6.3% since Aug. 10. The incentive program includes a $25 gift card after the first dose and $200 after the second dose or the single dose of Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Overall, the county has issued $123,325 in incentives.

In a presentation to the Board of Supervisors, Tracy Belton, director of the Health and Human Services Agency, said 2,325 residents have received at least one dose, and the majority have requested the Johnson & Johnson vaccine because they could receive the incentive right away. 

She said that on Sept. 13 alone the county had issued 88 cash incentives totaling $17,600.

Belton said that between June 10 and July 11, there were 1,916 first doses administered compared to the 2,284 between Aug. 10 and Sept. 10.

She also shared that:

  • 66.3% of San Benito County residents age 12 and up are fully vaccinated as of Sept. 13.
  • 10.5% of San Benito County residents age 12 and up are partially vaccinated as of Sept. 13.

Epidemiologist Mallory Schmitt cautioned that the percentage of people partially vaccinated has been steady throughout the vaccination effort, in reply to Supervisor Bob Tiffany who said the county’s full vaccination rate would be 77% once residents who are partially vaccinated receive a second dose.

“Don’t put your hopes too high because we do have people who, for whatever reason, don’t return for their second dose,” Schmitt said.

Overall, Belton said the Latino community has received the majority of inoculations during the incentive period. 

According to her presentation, 1,115 Latino residents have received at least one dose since Aug. 10, followed by 409 white residents. 

“This was a quick, fast process that we developed and it has been fairly seamless and I appreciate everybody’s hard work and dedication to this program as well as my staff,” Belton said.

According to a bar graph in Belton’s presentation, the trend of increased vaccination may be related to a drop in the numbers of unvaccinated people testing positive for the coronavirus since the incentive program began. About 90 positive cases were reported during the weeks of Aug. 1 and Aug. 15, and about 55 cases were reported the week of Aug. 29. 

The number of vaccinated residents who have tested positive for the virus has gradually increased since June. About 26 positive cases were reported in the week of Aug. 29, compared to about 2 in the first week of June, according to Belton’s presentation. 

In a continued effort to market the program, the Health and Human Services Agency will place several banners throughout the county and possibly commission a billboard. 

“This incentive program is working and it’s great to see,” Tiffany said.

 

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Noe Magaña

Noe Magaña is a BenitoLink reporter. He also experiments with videography and photography. A San Benito High School alumnus with a bachelor's in journalism from San Jose State and a Liberal Arts Associate's Degree from Gavilan College. Noe also attended San Jose City College and was the managing editor for the City College Times, the school's newspaper. He also was a reporter and later a copy editor for San Jose State's Spartan Daily.