Most area health departments are refusing money for $100 vaccine gift cards

Butler, Clark and Miami counties are tapping into those funds for $56,300 for 563 cards combined.

“I think the gift cards were effective and provided opportunities to start conversations that led to some educational moments,” Butler County General Health District spokeswoman Erin Smiley said. “We encountered many instances where people said they came specifically to receive a gift card.”

A reporter for the Dayton Daily News recently visited a vaccination clinic in Springfield, where workers said they saw the number of people showing up for first shots increase when they made gift cards available.

Greene, Warren and Champaign counties did not offer gift cards last year and do not plan to do so this year. They could have had $35,700 for 357 gift cards combined this year.

Counties waive vax incentive funds
The Ohio Department of Health is offering $1 million this year to 90 health departments across the state to purchase $100 gift cards for people receiving their first COVID shot. But some local health departments are not asking for the funds.
health department Amount available Number of cards Use funding?
Butler County Health Department $32,600.00 326 Yes
Champagne health district $4,300.00 43 No
Clark County Combined Health District $12,700.00 127 Yes
Greene County Public Health $14,600.00 146 No
Miami County Public Health $11,000.00 110 Yes
Public Health – Dayton and Montgomery County $45,700.00 457 No
Warren County Health District $16,800.00 168 No
Source: Ohio Department of Health

“While the incentive cards worked well for some counties, they weren’t right for all counties,” Greene County Deputy Health Commissioner Noah Stuby said.

“Throughout the pandemic response, Greene County Public Health and many other local health departments have chosen to use COVID grants to support our multi-faceted response which included activities such as tracing the contacts, case investigations, vaccination clinics, testing events and more,” he said.

Stuby said Greene County’s vaccination rate is one of the highest in the region once you factor in Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, where workers were required to get vaccinated. The Ohio Department of Health also lists Warren County as having one of the highest vaccination rates in the region.

Ohio Medicaid managed care providers are offering $100 statewide gift cards to Ohioans on Medicaid receiving their first shot. Ohio Medicaid officials say 100,050 cards were issued to Ohioans who received their first dose of the vaccine Feb. 13.

Medicaid managed care providers, such as CareSource, are also offering other incentives as part of a campaign to get children vaccinated. The first 100 Medicaid members to receive a vaccine will enter the Boonshoft Museum of Discovery for free from noon to 4 p.m. on Saturday, March 19. Some events also offer gift card raffles for Kroger and Walmart.

These incentives apply only to people on Medicaid, which many low-income Ohioans are not eligible for.

To exploreImmunization gaps: why some local areas are 3x higher, others lag behind

A recent Dayton Daily News analysis of vaccination rates by ZIP code found that low-income neighborhoods tended to have lower vaccination rates. The least vaccinated ZIP codes in Montgomery County were 45417 in West Dayton and 45345 in New Lebanon.

The Montgomery County Health Department does not discourage agencies or businesses from offering incentives for vaccinations and notes the availability of gift cards for Medicaid recipients.

“At this point, we’ve seen a steady decline in all vaccinations, including boosters,” Suffoletto said. “Public health has decided that the best use of public health resources at this time is to focus our efforts on trying to connect with people one-on-one to help address their concerns.”

CareSource is hosting the following events in March where Medicaid recipients ages 5 and older can get $100 gift cards to get their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine:

Horizon Academy of Sciences Charter School, 121 S. Monmouth St., Dayton: 3-6 p.m. Friday, March 11

Salvation Army Kroc Center: 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday March 12

Discovery Museum Boonshoft: from noon to 4 p.m. on Saturday, March 19. The first 100 Ohio Medicaid members receiving a COVID vaccine will also receive free admission to the museum

The Dakota Center: 2 to 5 p.m. Wednesday, March 23

Dayton Downtown YWCA: 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Friday, March 25. Marketing to after-school programs and on-site women’s and children’s shelter

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