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Polk County Launches Lottery To Incentivize COVID-19 Vaccinations

The University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics received its first shipment of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccines on Dec. 14.
As demand for the COVID-19 vaccine has declined, some Iowa counties are offering cash and gift card incentives to get the shot.

As COVID-19 vaccination rates continue to decline, the Polk County Board of Supervisors approved a lottery to incentivize residents of the state's most populous county to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

County officials said on Tuesday their goal is to get 75 percent of the county’s eligible population vaccinated by the end of the State Fair — Aug. 22.

Currently, officials estimate 61 percent of the county's eligible population is vaccinated.

Starting June 25, the county will host weekly lottery drawings for all fully vaccinated residents every Friday. Ten prizes of $1,000 will be given out weekly, while one prize of $50,000 and a $5,000 scholarship will be given out every other Friday.

The prizes are funded using money from the American Rescue Plan Act.

"In order to reach herd immunity, I think we're gonna have to do things like this to really encourage folks and set folks to get vaccinated," said Supervisor Tom Hockensmith.

Gov. Kim Reynolds told reporters earlier this month she will not enact incentives like a vaccine lottery, as some other states have done.

Supervisor Robert Brownell said even though state officials have declined to do a lottery, he thinks it could work for Polk County.

"It'll help drive vaccinations and it'll help drive our vaccination numbers," Brownell said. "And once we can get past this thing, then things really can get back to normal."

Last week, Black Hawk County officials announced they will begin raffling off $500 gift card baskets to incentivize residents to get the vaccine.

Unlike Black Hawk County's raffle, which is only open to residents who are vaccinated this summer, Polk County's lottery is open to all residents who have been fully vaccinated at any point.

Polk County residents can register for the lottery at immunizepolk.org. Those who need assistance can call 515-323-5221.

Natalie Krebs is IPR's Health Reporter