Just a week after public health officials started giving out $100 cash cards to Texans getting their first COVID-19 vaccine dose, a skyrocketing 529% increase in vaccination was observed.
Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo on Tuesday said that the number of daily vaccinations has shot up to six times its previous rate. “We had an inkling that something was going right when I started my announcement [about the incentive] at noon, and by the time I was done, 30 minutes later, there was a line of cars waiting to receive the vaccine,” Hidalgo said. “We haven’t seen those lines for months.”
Three weeks before the incentive was announced, Hidalgo said that the public health department was overseeing an average of 431 doses per day. On Aug. 17, as soon as the incentive was announced, the average number of first doses per day jumped at 914. The following day, 1, 596 people got their first dose, ABC 13 reported.
The figures amount to a 529% increase in vaccination rates, Hidalgo said.
“It’s a win for the people of Harris County and a much needed boost to the health care workers who have been seeing unnecessary tragedy day after day,” said Hidalgo, according to reports.
She also announced that the authorities will be opening an additional vaccination site at Sheldon ISD Panther Stadium located at 11433C East Sam Houston Parkway North. Around 1, 500 vaccines can be done per day Tuesday to Sunday starting at 9 in the morning to 7 in the evening.
The county officials are also transferring the NRG Park vaccination site to Dick Graves Park at 2000 Reed Rd. This will allow a total of 1,800 first doses per day, an increase from the previous one. The Dick Graces site will be open Tuesday to Sunday, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.
During the briefing, Hidalgo also said that she will be requesting $30 million that will go into acquiring additional nurses for the region. Governor Greg Abbott has already provided additional nurses in the area but a gap still remains, according to Hidalgo.
“We are asking that those nurses come outside of our region so that nurses are not just switching from one hospital to another in this area,” she said, adding that the $30 million will also be used for nurses’ salaries. The request is yet to be approved but Hidalgo said she is confident that Harris County will receive it.
Hidalgo also mentioned that in some hospitals, it’s not about a lack of beds but a shortage of medical personnel tending to patients. “The CEO of our public hospital system was explaining the other week that a man with pancreatitis had to wait 40 hours to get looked at,” said Hidalgo.
President Joe Biden has also encouraged cities and counties to pay $100 incentives just as Harris County did.