Scratchers, Zoo Tickets, Restaurant Gift Cards: Vaccine Incentives Continue This Weekend

click to enlarge Scratchers, Zoo Tickets, Restaurant Gift Cards: Vaccine Incentives Continue This Weekend
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The DiamondBacks in partnership with the state and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona will hold a family vaccination event at Chase Field today, Saturday, June 5.

Families can receive Pfizer for ages 12 and up and will have the opportunity to run the bases and take family photos on the field. They can set an appointment or walk-up from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

A second dose event will be held on Saturday, June 26, and those fully vaccinated will receive free tickets with the completion of their second shot.

While this is one of the first events the state has created to offer an incentive for vaccinations, Pima County continues its efforts to offer incentives for vaccinations. Previously the Health Department gave away Arizona Lottery scratcher tickets at two events over the Memorial Day weekend and also offered free admission to the Pima Air & Space Museum to people who went to the FEMA mobile vaccination center. The county will continue to give out scratchers with a maximum prize of $10,000 at various locations throughout June. Scout them out here (and find out about the $20 restaurant gift card you can get at Casino del Sol this weekend for getting a shot).

On Thursday, the Pima County Health Department announced the Reid Park Zoo will offer free passes at a COVID-19 vaccine clinic today, Saturday, June 5, in partnership with the county and the City of Tucson.

The first 100 people who get their first COVID-19 shot at the clinic will receive a free daytime admission ticket to come back and visit the zoo. The City of Tucson is providing 50 of the free passes, with the zoo providing the rest. The mobile clinic will be open from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the Zoo (3400 E. Zoo Court) and no appointment, identification or payment are required.

People arriving for their vaccination can check-in at a table in front of the zoo entrance. Zoo staff will escort people to the clinic, which will be set up in the zoo's Event Garden behind the carousel, and then be escorted back out if they don't have a ticket for the Summer Safari Nights event that day. All three vaccine types will be available (Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson), but only the Pfizer vaccine has been approved for children 12 to 17 years old.

"Those events helped boost the vaccinations at those sites, and we will continue to provide extra motivation for people to get their shots and protect our community," said Health Department Director Dr. Theresa Cullen. "We're grateful to our partners for making this happen at a fun summer event for the family."

This vaccination clinic is part of Pima County's participation in the National Month of Action, which President Joe Biden announced on Wednesday. The administration called it an “all-of-America sprint” to reach the goal of vaccinating 70% of U.S. adults with at least one shot by July 4.

According to data from the CDC, 58.1% of Arizona residents age 18 and older have received one dose of the vaccine. Arizona Department of Health Services Director Dr. Cara Christ said she hopes that state hits that 70% goal, but vaccine hesitancy and decreased demand makes that harder.

“We know that there's a lot of misperceptions out about the vaccine. We know that there's a lot of people who are hesitant and want to see others who have taken the vaccine and see how it turns out for them before they get it. So we're going to continue to work. We would love to hit that 70% goal by July 4, but we're going to continue working whether we get that or not,” said Christ at the Friday afternoon press briefing.

Prior to the pandemic, Arizona already had pockets of vaccine hesitancy as one of the few states that allows personal exemptions for vaccinations.

“We've been seeing declining vaccination rates in Arizona so that may play a role in it,” said Christ. “A lot of Arizonans are independent. They want to make these decisions on their own. We're working on getting that information out and answering individual questions the best that we can.”

Christ said at the State Farm Stadium POD back at the end of March peaked at around 169,000 doses in a week, to about 13,000 doses last week and around 20,000 to 50,000 doses the previous weeks.

With significant drops in vaccine demand, the state is shuttering down their state vaccination PODs and shifting their efforts to pop-up events. The University of Arizona POD will close on June 25.

Through the One Community Initiative, state and local health departments partner with faith-based organizations to increase vaccine equity, holding telephone town halls and door-to-door outreach.

Christ said they are looking at geographical areas that have higher rates of COVID-19 disease and outcomes of hospitalization or death, but also at various populations where they have identified lower vaccination rates, including veterans, Black adult men, and men between the ages of 18 and 30 who "may not be impacted by COVID-19 but have lower vaccination rates.”

With a stabilization of COVID-19 cases and a steady decline in the rate of transmission since the end of April to 44 cases per 100,000 individuals for the week of May 23, Christ hopes there would not be another outbreak despite the unknowns of COVID-19 and potential variants.

“What we would hope is that even if we got a significant number of cases that our vulnerable populations have been significantly immunized and that would prevent potentially hospitalizations and deaths. So it’s hard to predict,” said Christ. “We do have a significant number of Arizona's vaccinated. It's not as high as we would like, but we also know that some people will have some immunity. We don't know how long it lasts but if they've recently been infected with COVID, they may have a level of protection, and people haven't gone completely back to normal, which I think also slows some of that transmission. But it's always something that we're on the watch for.”