Local officials have announced additional details of a vaccination incentive plan that Hopkinsville City Council adopted Tuesday night — including the fact that Christian County residents who live outside the city limits now will be eligible for part of the incentive package.
Up to 1,000 city residents who start and finish a vaccine series by Oct. 31 at the Christian County Health Department will receive a $100 check from the city. The program starts the week of Sept. 13.
In addition, both Hopkinsville and Christian County residents who meet the vaccine requirements by the end of October will be entered to win one of 10 drawings for $1,000.
Previously, city officials had not publicly stated the option of offering part of the incentive package to county residents. It was not specified during the city council’s discussion of the plan before its adoption on Tuesday, when the mayor broke a tie council vote to advance the incentives.
However, on Thursday, the health department published a graph labeled “Your Shot at $100” on Facebook that explained the eligibility of county residents for a portion of the incentives. Mayor Wendell Lynch told Hoptown Chronicle that the shift occurred because the city had to work through some financial logistics with the health department.
All of the money for the $110,000 incentive package comes from the city’s American Rescue Plan funding. It uses about 1.7% of the city’s roughly $6.6 million in federal pandemic relief funding.
“Our original plan was to give the health department the money and let them administer all of it,” Lynch said. But the health department didn’t have the bookkeeping capacity to issue 1,000 checks, so the city agreed to write those checks while the health department, which serves the entire county, would write checks for the ten $1,000 drawings.
“We are not going to criticize that part of it. We want them to own the program,” Lynch said, referring to the health department.
Lynch called it a cooperative agreement where the city provides funding and the health department administers the program. In addition, Jennie Stuart Health and the Pennyrile Area Development District are listed as partners in the incentive.
The goal is to increase the percentage of local residents who are vaccinated. As of Thursday, Christian County had the third-worst vaccination rate in Kentucky. According to the Kentucky COVID-19 Vaccination Dashboard, 26.6% of Christian County residents had received at least one vaccine shot.
Most of the people who are currently seriously ill with COVID-19 have not been vaccinated, and their numbers are overwhelming Kentucky hospitals. In August, Jennie Stuart Medical Center treated 103 people who were hospitalized with the virus. Of those, 94 had not been vaccinated, Jennie Stuart Health spokesman Chris Jung told Hopkinsville City Council.
Residents who opt for the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine (both of which require two shots) will receive their $100 check when they get the second shot. In order to complete the vaccine series by Oct. 31, those getting the Moderna vaccine must get the first shot by Sept. 30, and those receiving the Pfizer vaccine must have the first shot by Oct. 7, according to the health department’s guidelines. Anyone getting the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine will be given a date to return for their check.
The health department administers vaccines on Tuesdays and Thursdays.