The Potluck

$200 gift cards coming for vaccinated Minnesota kids

By: - January 12, 2022 8:58 am
vaccine card

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Minnesota families who get their children vaccinated in January and February will be eligible to receive a $200 VISA gift card, Gov. Tim Walz’s office announced Tuesday.

To receive the money, families must get first and second shots for their 5- to 11-year-olds between Jan. 1 and Feb. 28.

The state hopes the cash incentive will increase vaccination rates among kids, who have the lowest rates among any age group: 26% of 5- to 11-year-olds are fully vaccinated, compared to 68% of all Minnesotans over age 5. 

Registration for the gift card will open at 10 a.m. on Jan. 24 and close at 11:59 p.m. Feb. 28. Information about where to find COVID-19 vaccines for kids is available here

The incentive program comes as the highly contagious Omicron variant causes a surge in COVID-19 cases in Minnesota and across the nation. Minnesota’s current transmission rate is the worst it’s been during the pandemic so far, the Star Tribune reported, with the test positivity rate reaching a record high of 19% in the week ending Jan. 3.

Nationwide, COVID-related hospitalization rates among children under 5 — who are not yet eligible for vaccination — have doubled compared to last month, The New York Times reported, although they’re still less likely than older people to get sick or become hospitalized. Hospitalization rates for older children have also increased, but at a lower rate.

Experts say the increase in hospitalizations among kids is likely because this variant is so contagious, and cases are surging among all age groups — so far, there’s no evidence Omicron causes more severe illness in children or adults. Getting vaccinated and wearing masks are still the best ways to minimize risk of infection and severe illness.

“As Omicron surges across our nation, we’re continuing to use every resource we have to keep our families safe and healthy,” Walz said in a news release. “There’s a lot of highly transmissible virus circulating in our communities, but getting our children 5-11 years old vaccinated gives them critical protection against severe illness and hospitalization from COVID-19.”

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Rilyn Eischens
Rilyn Eischens

Rilyn Eischens is a former data reporter for the Minnesota Reformer. Rilyn was born and raised in Minnesota and has worked in newsrooms in the Twin Cities, Iowa, Texas and most recently Virginia, where she covered education for The Staunton News Leader. She's an alumna of the Dow Jones News Fund data journalism program and the Minnesota Daily. When Rilyn isn't in the newsroom, she likes to read, add to her plant collection and try new recipes.