In a bid to get more people in San Antonio vaccinated, the San Antonio city council voted on a new H-E-B voucher scheme.
The scheme will offer $100 H-E-B gift cards to residents of San Antonio who receive the single dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine or second doses of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccines at any one of the city's vaccines events.
There will be 10,000 gift cards available for anyone who received the first dose after July 31, 2021. The city overwhelmingly approved the vote of San Antonio in a vote of nine for and one against. The one person to vote against the scheme was District 8 Councilman Manny Pelaez.
“I feel like voting for this would be taking a patronizing stance and send the wrong message to the people that don't trust vaccines. And I'm not talking about the lunatics. I'm talking about people who just have a general mistrust of government and, you know, big pharma and all that. And so and I feel like this smacks of paternalism and it treats adults like children.” District 8 Councilman Manny Pelaez.
San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg didn't vote as his wife works for H-E-B.
The scheme will be funded using $1 million of federal coronavirus funds, and it is expected to commence before the end of the month.
Current vaccination rates in Bexar County are above the Texas average. As of today, in Bexar County, over 70% of people over the age of 12 are fully vaccinated. At least 86% of people in Bexar County have received at least one dose. Despite these rates, the city is keen to push these even higher.
“This virus, this variant, punishes the procrastinators. So, we're trying to do our best to incentivize the folks who are still on the fence. We now have an opportunity to use these federal funds and we're going to keep pushing this out.” Metro Health Director Claude Jacob
The most popular grocery chain in Texas, H-E-B, has been at the forefront of the fight against COVID. As a result, in June, it updated its mask policy, releasing a statement on its website stating:
"At H-E-B, the health and safety of our Partners and customers is our top priority. After reviewing updated guidance from the CDC on mask use, H-E-B will make facial coverings optional for fully vaccinated Partners, vendors, and customers inside our stores. This policy change will take effect on June 9, 2021.Throughout the pandemic, H-E-B has been a leader in developing strong Covid-19 safety measures to protect our Partners, customers, and communities, and we are encouraged by the favorable Covid-19 trends in Texas."
In an official statement from Metro Health, they said they "selected H-E-B for its gift card incentives because of its familiarity and accessibility among residents, including underserved and high-risk individuals."
City of San Antonio vaccine incentives
This is not the first vaccine incentive used by the City of San Antonio to encourage people to get vaccinated.
Back in May, Metro Health partnered with Six Flags Fiesta Texas and offered 20,000 complimentary tickets to the theme park for those who were vaccinated. In July, this was followed when the city partnered with the San Antonio Spurs to host vaccine pop-up clinics at AT&T Center and Toyota Field. At this event, Spurs, 10-game season packages were given away.
Update: today the city announced the scheme will commence on Friday, October 1. While there is no age limit to receive the gift cards children between 12 and 17 years old will need to be accompanied by a parent or guardian, according to Metro Health.
“We hope that individuals who are still not vaccinated will take advantage of this incentive because it will take all of us getting vaccinated to end this pandemic,” Metro Health Director Claude A. Jacob
San Antonio readers, do you think these incentives are a good idea to lift vaccination rates? Will they encourage you to get a vaccine shot if you haven't already done so? Are you happy with the city of San Antonio's efforts to drive vaccination? Do you think that people who were already vaccinated should also receive gift cards?
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