Health director: COVID-19 vaccination incentive programs ‘attract certain people’

Emily King registers for her COVID-19 vaccine last week at the Butler County Fairgrounds. The Butler County Health Department, with help from other agencies, continues its vaccination clinics with Walk-in Wednesdays at the Butler County Fairgrounds in Hamilton. The clinic runs from 9 a.m. until noon on Wednesdays. NICK GRAHAM / STAFF
Emily King registers for her COVID-19 vaccine last week at the Butler County Fairgrounds. The Butler County Health Department, with help from other agencies, continues its vaccination clinics with Walk-in Wednesdays at the Butler County Fairgrounds in Hamilton. The clinic runs from 9 a.m. until noon on Wednesdays. NICK GRAHAM / STAFF

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

CareSource giving $50 gift cards to those who vaccinate, receive their insurance through any Medicaid provider

Those who are reluctant to receive the COVID-19 vaccine continue to receive incentives throughout the state, including Butler County.

The largest incentives are offered by the state through its Vax-a-Million program that is awarding five $1 million prizes to any Ohioan at least 18 years old who’s vaccinated and a college scholarship to any state school for anyone between 12 and 17 years old who receives a vaccine.

Suzanne Ward of Findlay was announced Wednesday as the fourth winner of the $1 million prize, and Sean Horning, 17, a 2021 Colerain High School graduate, won the full-ride scholarship.

The state said more than 3.4 million Ohioans entered their names for a shot at the Vax-a-Million, up from the 3.3 million who had registered for last week’s drawing. More than 150,000 children age 12-17 entered their names for the scholarship, up from 133,000 last week, according to the state.

After more than a year, Ohio will no longer be in a state of emergency starting today, Gov. Mike DeWine announced Thursday. He declared a state of emergency due to the coronavirus pandemic last March after three Ohioans tested positive for coronavirus.

The state is also lifting more health orders related to nursing homes, including restrictions on visitation, starting today. The only requirement that will remain in place is testing unvaccinated staff at nursing homes and assisted living centers for the virus twice a week.

Starting today, any visitation restrictions will be up to those facilities and will not be imposed by the state, the governor said.

ExploreJuneteenth events in Butler County: Hamilton, Middletown, Miami to host festivities this week

Jackie Phillips, Middletown’s health commissioner, said people should be “educated and concerned about their health” without incentives. But she understands that incentives “attract certain people” who may be on the fence about getting a vaccination.

“Incentives may push them over the fence,” she said.

In Middletown, those who receive their health insurance through any Medicaid provider in Ohio will receive a $50 gift card, courtesy of CareSource, if they get vaccinated today at the Middletown Community Health Celebration.

The cards will be from Visa or retail stores, said Deborah Patterson, director of the Dream Center. She said certain demographics are reluctant to get vaccinated.

“They are suspicious,” said Patterson, who is vaccinated. “When I asked them, they say, ‘I don’t believe it’s real.’”

Besides COVID-19 vaccinations, free food and drinks, music, games and a bouncy house will be available from noon to 5 p.m. today at the Dream Center, 834 Yankee Road.

Butler County’s General Health District offers all three vaccines: the one-shot Johnson and Johnson, Moderna and Pfizer. Pfizer is the only vaccine authorized to be administered to those 12 and older. The other vaccines can only be administered to adults.

The district said Medicaid recipients who show their card at each Wednesday walk-in vaccination clinic at the Butler County Fairgrounds will receive a gift card and be signed up for the Vax-A-Million program.

The city of Hamilton moved away from the drive-through format in mid-May as the capacity for mass vaccination sites grew through the county and state, said Hamilton Health Commissioner Kay Farrar.

She said the pop-up clinics at churches, festivals, restaurants, and businesses are the city’s primary method of outreach. She said the clinics reach “vitally important populations” in the county.

In Middletown, the city’s public health department has a regular walk-in clinic from noon to 1 p.m. every Thursday at One Donham Plaza.

The city will hold a walk-in clinic at the annual Independence Day Festival on July 3 in Smith Park.

The region’s largest grocery store, Kroger, is giving away $1 million each week for five weeks and free groceries for a year to those who get vaccinated.

The giveaway runs through July 10 with winners scheduled to be selected weekly.

Officials said the giveaway was created by Kroger Health to support the Biden administration’s national effort to have at least 70% of U.S. adults receive their first COVID-19 vaccine dose by July 4.

To be eligible, individuals must have at least one shot of the COVID-19 vaccine and received that shot at a Kroger location, or by a Kroger health care professional at an off-site event.

The Cincinnati Reds are reducing certain ticket prices to those fans who show their COVID-19 Vaccination Card with at least one shot completed.

Fans can purchase View Level tickets for $10 at the ticket windows at Great American Ball Park for any Monday-Thursday games through the end of the regular season, subject to availability, according to the Reds. Six tickets can be purchased with each vaccine card shown.

As part of MLB’s Vaccinate at the Plate initiative, the Reds partnered with TriHealth to offer pop-up vaccinations for fans at Great American Ball Park on June 9 and June 13.

Unvaccinated fans who received a COVID-19 shot received two digital tickets to an future Reds game.

On Tuesday, the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden and the City of Cincinnati’s Health Department teamed to offer free COVID-19 vaccinations and free admission.

Staff writer Michael Pitman contributed to this story.