ST. PAUL —Minnesota’s latest push to get residents vaccinated against the coronavirus will focus on providing incentives to residents living in communities hardest hit by COVID-19.
Gov. Tim Walz announced on Thursday, Sept. 16, that the state would tap $4 million in federal aid and $400,000 from private foundations to offer $100 worth of rewards for people who complete their vaccination series.
The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines require two doses, spaced weeks apart, while the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is one shot.
“Every shot in the arm is a critical step in stopping the spread of this virus, and local organizations around Minnesota know how to best encourage the communities they serve to get their vaccine,” Walz said in a statement announcing the program. “We are taking every opportunity we can to meet Minnesotans where they are — especially in communities hit hardest by COVID-19.”
State and federal data have shown low-income communities, people of color, residents with disabilities and the LGBTQ community have been hard hit by the pandemic, both in terms of increased illness and economic misfortune.
The latest vaccination push will focus on providing incentives in-person, rather than online, at the community clinics and federally funded health centers that serve those communities.
“Our administration is deeply committed to ensuring equity within all aspects of our COVID-19 response,” Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan said in a statement. “By providing funds directly to our COVID-19 Community Coordinators, community clinics, and Federally Qualified Health Centers for culturally-relevant and on-site incentives, we will be able to better serve communities disproportionately impacted by COVID-19.”
Incentives will include grocery store vouchers, Target gift cards or culturally specific food items.
Previously, more than 80,000 residents applied online for $100 gift cards that were part of incentive programs the state held in early August and at the state fair.
Those incentives, worth more than $8 million, were also paid for with federal pandemic aid, state leaders said.