DeKalb says $50 gift cards led to more vaccinations

210719-Decatur -- Ashanti Booker, a registered nurse with the DeKalb County Board of Health, gives a Covid-19 vaccination to Raya High, 13, at a mobile clinic at Decatur High School on Monday afternoon, July 19, 2021. Ben Gray for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution

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210719-Decatur -- Ashanti Booker, a registered nurse with the DeKalb County Board of Health, gives a Covid-19 vaccination to Raya High, 13, at a mobile clinic at Decatur High School on Monday afternoon, July 19, 2021. Ben Gray for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Over the weekend, DeKalb County offered $50 prepaid debit cards to try and incentivize folks to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

Officials say it worked.

The county made the cards available Saturday at three different sites where a food distribution event was also being held. They gave away 185 of the 300 available cards.

Officials said those 185 vaccinations represented a nearly 50% increase from the total number of shots administered during the previous month’s incentive-less event.

“The $50 prepaid debit cards are a smart investment that will save lives, reduce the spread of COVID-19 and protect our medical personnel and first responders,” DeKalb County CEO Michael Thurmond said in a news release.

As of July 20, only about 44% of DeKalb residents were fully vaccinated.

About 68% of the county’s Asian population, and 53% of its white population, had received at least one shot. About 35% of the county’s Black and Hispanic residents had gotten at least one dose.

County officials said Tuesday they were mulling the possibility of rolling out an vaccine incentives program on a larger, more permanent scale. Details could be finalized in coming weeks.

“I believe we’re on to something,” Thurmond said. “I really do.”