HAYDEN, Idaho – Idaho has slowly kept pace with other states when it comes to getting people vaccinated.
With those 12 and over, they have 61% of the state with at least the first dose and nearly 50% of the state are now fully vaccinated.
Panhandle Health is still struggling to get firearms. Only 38% of people 12 years and older in all five northern Idaho counties are receiving at least one dose, and about 34% of people 12 and older are fully vaccinated.
What could drive those numbers up are incentives, as Washington is doing. Idaho health officials said the idea was not off the table, but it wasn’t a safe bet either.
“We have a large supply of vaccines and hope the community receives them,” said Katherine Hoyer, Public Information Officer for the Panhandle Health District (PHD).
As of April, 250 cans from PHD clinics have been wasted. It’s daunting for them, especially as they try to get people vaccinated. They have this and many other factors on board to provide incentives.
Idaho has been fully open for a few weeks now, though health officials say people should still be vaccinated. To sweeten the deal, PHD is hoping the state will offer a few bonuses.
“We are fully behind it, yes. Even if it increases a few percentage points, it is worthwhile for us to offer an incentive if we can, ”said Hoyer.
The idea was whirled around at the state level and raised during a briefing on Tuesday.
“We’re definitely looking at what is happening in other states when we can learn from other states about how effective some of these incentive programs are in increasing vaccination rates,” said Elke Shaw-Tulloch, Public Health Administrator with the Idaho Department of Health Welfare.
They also talk to the local health districts about what they see in their community. Hoyer said some employers offered company swag or pint glasses.
“At the moment they are asking us to let them know if we know of an incentive offered by an employer or a mobile vaccination clinic. We are currently collecting this data for you, ”said Hoyer.
While nothing is certain, PHD does everything it can to encourage people to get vaccinated, whether through mobile clinics or information.
“We go to retirement communities, schools, and private companies, so they went pretty well,” said Hoyer. “It breaks down a transport barrier, the convivence, so we want to make it as easy as possible.”
PHD has some concerns. Hoyer said the positivity rate is between 8-10%, although some counties are lower. Transmission is also another concern. Hoyer Tells 4 News Now they’re seeing the community spread and outbreaks in places like schools.
PHD will not be providing incentives at this time, but hopes that the example of other states will encourage the state to do the same.
“Of course we want people to make the decision regardless of any incentive, but in other states it has helped increase their adoption,” said Hoyer.
Despite what the state health department said, the governor’s office said:
The State of Idaho does not currently have any lottery or special incentives for vaccinated Idahoans. However, the governor’s office is open to researching new options that will result in more Idahoans opting for the COVID-19 vaccine, and Governor Little continues to encourage all eligible Idahoans to opt for the vaccine because it is safe and is effective and will help keep the vaccine an end to the pandemic.
Panhandle Health is hosting a vaccination clinic in the shops of the Coeur d’Alene Resort Plaza on Wednesday between 2pm and 7pm Here.
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