Vaccinations are on the rise, perhaps due to state incentives

KENTUCKY HEALTH NEWS
At a different county health department in the heart of Eastern Kentucky each day this week, Kentucky’s health-insurance companies will give away ten $100 gift cards to people who get a coronavirus vaccination.

The Kentucky Association of Health Plans, the lobbying group for companies offering health coverage in the state, said in its Friday press release that Visa gift cards would be given “while supplies last.” Spokesman Tyler Glick said Sunday that each site would have 10 cards to hand out.

Each “Vaccines for Visas” session will run from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. ET, starting in Lee County in Monday. The project will be in Owsley County on Tuesday, Breathitt County on Wednesday, Magoffin County on Thursday and Leslie County on Friday. Appointments are encouraged, but walk-ins are welcome.

KAHP Executive Director Tom Stephens said in the release, “We’re trying to reach those that have been sitting on the fence. This promotion will be raising awareness, which is half the battle.”

Last week, the group started its a “Shots Across the Bluegrass” vaccine tour with Kentucky Sports Radio broadcasts from five Kentucky counties, including stops in London and Manchester, near this week’s counties.

Counties in the area have some of the state’s lowest vaccination rates. In them, the percentages of the county population that has received at least one dose of vaccine are Laurel, 29%; Clay, 26%; Owsley, 28%; Lee (which has a state prison), 39%; Breathitt, 34%; and Leslie, 35%. The statewide vaccination rate is 48%; Woodford County is tops with 63%.

The health-plan group said its members are also using “digital and radio ads, member incentives, coordinated transportation for plan members, pop-up clinics, homebound vaccination visits, text and email campaigns, yard signs, billboards, outbound calls to members prioritized by risk tier, personalized assistance from advocates with sign-ups and digital site navigation, letters, and follow-up on second dose appointments if a plan is alerted that a member has not received the second dose based on claims data.”
The state is offering a lottery drawing for vaccine recipients, for three $1 million prizes for adults and 15 post-secondary education scholarships to 15 youth aged 12 to 17. Sign up at vaccine.ky.gov.

The incentives appear to be boosting vaccination numbers, as similar incentives have done in Ohio and other states.