Oakland County to give $50 gift card to those who get COVID-19 shot by July 4

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This story appeared in The Detroit Free Press. Read more here.

Oakland County residents who haven’t received a COVID-19 vaccine yet can get a $50 gift card from the county health division if they get one by the Fourth of July.

The incentive kicks off Thursday and is for county residents age 12 and older who are eligible for a vaccine, with officials hoping to entice younger adults and teens as only 54% of county residents ages 16 to 29 have received their first shot.

The gift card will be for any county resident who receives at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine from a health division clinic or another COVID-19 vaccine provider in Michigan, while supplies last. Those under age 18 are eligible to receive a gift card with the consent of their parent or legal guardian, according to a news release Wednesday.

“Vaccination remains the best tool to beat this pandemic,” County Executive Dave Coulter said. “We have made great strides in our efforts but there is still work to be done, and with more and more of our residents getting vaccinated, I’m confident all of our summer plans will be back to normal very soon.”

Residents who get vaccinated at a provider other than the health division can get their gift card by completing a survey at OaklandCountyVaccine.com. Those who don’t have internet access can contact the Nurse on Call at 800-848-5533. Residents also can use those resources to find a vaccination clinic.

The gift card will be mailed after the heath division verifies the person’s vaccination status.

The announcement came the same day that a U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advisory committee met to review reports of heart complications among teens and young adults after they were immunized with either a Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine.

The CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices acknowledged there likely is an association between myocarditis — inflammation of the heart muscle — and pericarditis — inflammation of the pericardium, the thin membrane around heart — among 12- to 39-year-olds following vaccination.

Cases have been reported at a rate of 12.6 per million people within 21 days after a second dose of the vaccine, though some cases have also been reported after the first dose as well. The complication is more likely to occur in boys and young men, and the condition is most likely to appear within the first five days after vaccination.

Through June 11, 39.3 million mRNA vaccines were administered in the U.S. to 12- to 39-year-olds. There were 527 reports of myocarditis/pericarditis submitted to the federal Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System (VAERS) within seven days of receiving a second dose of a vaccine.

President Joe Biden is hoping for 70% of adult Americans to have had at least one dose of vaccine by July 4, but federal officials said Tuesday they may fall short of that goal.

Most COVID-19 restrictions in Michigan, including mask and gathering orders, were lifted Tuesday as cases and hospitalizations fall. Just over 61% (more than 4.9 million) residents age 16 and older have received at least one dose of vaccine, according to the state’s COVID-19 vaccine dashboard.

More than 68% of Oakland County residents age 16 and older have received at least their first dose of vaccine. The county is shooting to reach the 70% mark by the Fourth of July.

“Vaccination also helps slow the spread of COVID-19 virus variants circulating in our state, including the concerning Delta variant,” said Dr. Russell Faust, Oakland County’s medical director. “I urge everyone age 12 and up who has not yet received their vaccine to get it as soon as possible so we keep the presence of COVID-19 in our communities low.”

Two cases of the delta variant have been identified in Oakland County. That is the strain that originated in India and is highly transmissible and may cause more serious infection.

As of Wednesday, 32 cases of the delta variant have been identified in seven Michigan counties and the city of Detroit. Eleven of the cases were identified in out-of-state people who were tested in Michigan, said Lynn Sutfin, a spokesperson for the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

In addition to Oakland County, the delta variant has been identified in seven cases in Wayne County, four each in Branch and St. Joseph counties and one each in Lapeer, Livingston and Macomb counties as well as the city of Detroit, she said.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, chief medical adviser to Biden, said Tuesday that the delta variant is now doubling in prevalence every two weeks and accounts for 20.6% of sequenced cases nationally.

Oakland County joins the city of Detroit in offering an incentive to get a COVID-19 vaccine. Since May 3, the city of Detroit has offered a $50 pre-paid debit card to Good Neighbor drivers who pre-register to bring a Detroiter to his or her first-dose vaccination.

Good Neighbor drivers get $50 per shot for each appointment, but are not paid for taking anyone under age 18. There is a limit of three residents per vehicle per appointment trip, according to the city’s website.

Good Neighbors can make unlimited trips, but if they make more than $600 they will be required to complete a W-9 form and receive a 1099 from the city to file with their 2021 tax return, according to the website. It states the effort is funded by a state grant for COVID-19 vaccine programs.

Many businesses in Michigan and nationally also are offering incentives to get more shots in arms as COVID-19 inoculations wane.

Other states are offering lotteries and other items, such as West Virginia giving away new custom-outfitted trucks, five custom hunting rifles and five custom hunting shotguns among other prizes to vaccinated residents age 18 and older.

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