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As COVID Cases Climb, Hamilton County Considering Incentives For Residents To Get Vaccinated

 A graph showing daily and average daily new cases of COVID-19 in Hamilton County, as of August 10, 2021.
Hamilton County Health Department
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A graph showing daily and average daily new cases of COVID-19 in Hamilton County, as of August 10, 2021.

Hamilton County officials are working on an incentive program to encourage more residents to get vaccinated for COVID-19. County Administrator Jeff Aluotto says the Board of Commissioners planned an internal incentive program for county employees.

"It just happened to overlap with the state's Vax-a-Million program, so we put a pause on that at the time," Aluotto said. "But given where our rates are, the stagnation in those vaccination rates, and the increase in the variants, I think it's time, certainly, to revisit that."

The local incentive could be based on a program in Columbus that gave residents $100 gift cards. Health officials there say it helped boost vaccination rates.

New cases of COVID-19 in the area are growing even more sharply than recent weeks. Hamilton County is averaging 155 new cases every day, more than double the number two weeks ago.

County Health Commissioner Greg Kesterman says the good news is that vaccination rates have also gone up a bit.

"We know that 97% of people in the hospital have not been vaccinated," Kesterman said. "So if you want to stay out of the hospital, the number one way to do so is get vaccinated."

About 52% of all county residents have gotten at least one dose of a vaccine.