Socorro County’s vaccine incentive program drew an enthusiastic response from residents, with a line stretching outside the county director’s office on Friday even before the program officially started on Monday.
The incentive program offers Socorro residents $ 50 gift certificates if they show proof of their COVID-19 vaccination. The program is similar to the incentive program offered by the county to complete the census last year.
Residents can also participate in a county-wide vaccine lottery that will provide 100 people with $ 250 gift certificates. There will be four lottery draws, the first taking place on July 1. The program is funded with $ 75,000 of the $ 3.2 million allocated to the county from federal bailout funds. People can also get a free ride to get their COVID-19 vaccine if they need it.
As of Friday, the county had already bought about $ 9,000 worth of gift cards, county manager Michael Hawkes said and handed out at least 200 cards. By the end of Monday, the county had distributed $ 15,000 in gift cards to residents who showed proof of vaccination.
The location of the card distribution changes to the County Annex building to accommodate the large number of people taking advantage of the incentives. The distribution of cards was suspended until Thursday, July 1 at 8 a.m., when more cards could be distributed. When all of that allocation is gone, the county will choose another day to resume dealing cards. Hawkes encourages people to get vaccinated as soon as possible, so they can take advantage of the incentive program.
“You never know, we might have a big surprise prize if funds are available,” Hawkes said.
Mario Romero was one of the residents of Socorro who lined up for a free gift card on Friday. Romero got a gift certificate from ACE Hardware, while his children received gift cards for local restaurants.
“I think it’s a really good idea. It makes people want to get vaccinated, ”he said.
Alfredo Soto stood in line for about half an hour on Friday afternoon outside the county director’s office. Soto said he believes the program is good for the people of Socorro, especially as the end of the month approaches when people might run out of money as bills are due.
Dora Lucero was also standing in line with her vaccine card on Friday afternoon. Lucero said she thinks the schedule for the program is a good idea, as more people may be encouraged to get vaccinated before the state is supposed to fully reopen on July 1.
“As much as I hate shooting, I made myself brave,” said Lucero.