$100 incentive now offered for 1st vaccine dose in Harris Co.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo introduced a $100 cash incentive for those who are getting their first vaccine dose against COVID-19.

While she acknowledged improving numbers, including a 63% first vaccine rate in the county, there's still a 20% positivity rate in the midst of the highly contagious delta variant.

In order to receive $100 paid in the form of a cash card, residents will have to sign a waiver prior to the vaccination and remain in the post-vaccination waiting area at a Harris County Public Health vaccination site for the 15-to-30 minutes recommended.

Payments are made at the time of vaccination and the program runs through Aug. 31.



Ahead of Tuesday's announcement, Hidalgo's office called the incentive a "major public health initiative" as a way to lessen the strain on hospitalizations.

She added there are more people in the hospital now with COVID in the greater Houston area than any other time during the pandemic.

Harris Health System president and CEO, Dr. Esmaeil Porsa, supported Hidalgo's sentiment made earlier this month calling the current situation a pandemic of the unvaccinated.

WATCH: 'I am begging you' to the right thing amid surge, hospital CEO says
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"I am begging you." Harris Health CEO and president, Dr. Esmaeil Porsa, gave notice to county residents, stating mostly unvaccinated patients are taking ICU beds that should be going to trauma patients.



The hospital system reported a little over 98% of those hospitalized for COVID in the Harris Health System have not been vaccinated. And, as of Tuesday, Harris County Public Health's COVID dashboard showed a little over 26% of ICU beds across hospitals in the county are for COVID patients.

According to Porsa, an ICU bed for a COVID patient takes away care from those who need it for non-virus related ailments like trauma. The vaccine, which experts said isn't perfect, lessens the severity and length of symptoms.

SEE MORE: Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo raises COVID threat level to 'severe'
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In raising the county's virus threat level to "severe," Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo gave stern warning in the midst of the spike in cases due to the delta variant.



Overall, Hidalgo summed up Tuesday's announcement, stating there are people who are suffering from the virus who didn't have to.

In the hours after Harris County's offering, Mayor Sylvester Turner also made his appeal for vaccinations, saying the city of Houston has surpassed 3,000 deaths from the pandemic..



Turner and Dr. David Persse, the city's chief medical officer, directed a vaccine message to the "younger generation" who remain hesitant to get the shots.

Addressing social media messaging that claims the vaccines alter DNA, Turner said it's simply not true.


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