Here's how Harris County is attempting to raise vaccination rates

Harris County is implementing new strategies to increase vaccination rates. (Courtesy Pexels)
Harris County is implementing new strategies to increase vaccination rates. (Courtesy Pexels)

Harris County is implementing new strategies to increase vaccination rates. (Courtesy Pexels)

At the first in-person Harris County Commissioners Court meeting since the start of the pandemic, commissioners discussed ways to get more county residents vaccinated against COVID-19. About 45% of Harris County residents age 12 and older were fully vaccinated as of the June 8 meeting, and 56% had received at least one dose, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services.

County Judge Lina Hidalgo said states including Ohio, Washington and New Mexico have successfully increased their vaccination rates by offering lottery prizes and other incentives.

A new county initiative announced June 3 will award a $5,000 scholarship each week to one student who receives their vaccine from a Harris County Public Health site. The scholarship can help current or future students pay for tuition, room and board, and books at any community college, public college or university in the state of Texas.

Raffle candidates must be residents of Harris County, under the age of 18 at the time of their initial dose and must have received at least their first dose from a HCPH vaccination site at any point before the raffle drawing. Citizenship status is not checked or required, officials said.

Drawings will take place weekly for at least 10 weeks, Hidalgo said. Learn more and see the raffle schedule here.


Future outreach

Another major attempt to increase those numbers comes in the form of a potential contract with a firm called Elevate Strategies for a full year of targeted community vaccine outreach with three one-year renewal options. Commissioners agreed in a 4-1 vote to have county officials finalize the contract that would be up for approval at a future meeting.

Hidalgo said if that contract is ultimately approved, this firm would engage county residents via calls, texts, social media, face-to-face canvassing and direct mail, focusing on the neighborhoods hit hardest by COVID-19. The county has previously partnered with Elevate Strategies to help raise awareness about the 2020 Census, she said.

Precinct 2 Commissioner Adrian Garcia supported the plan, saying he believes individuals respond to one-on-one engagement. He requested to prioritize the “most stubborn” ZIP codes that have lower vaccination rates as a starting point.

Both Cagle, who voted against the plan, and Precinct 3 Commissioner Tom Ramsey expressed concerns about the estimated cost of the project, which was not publicly disclosed during the meeting.

“I don’t want us to just be spending money to be spending money. It should be done with a clear understanding of what we’re going to get for it,” Ramsey said.

While the motion up for discussion did not include approval of the financial costs associated with the forthcoming contract, Hidalgo requested the cost be included in the meeting agenda where commissioners will have the opportunity to approve the actual agreement.

Hidalgo also said she anticipates these funds will be reimbursable by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, but in the meantime, the county would pay Elevate Strategies in installments over the course of the project.

“They’re not going to get all the money at once,” she said. “So, they get a chunk, we see how they’re doing; if something’s working we’ll continue to fund it. If something’s not working, we won’t.”
By Danica Lloyd
Danica joined Community Impact Newspaper as a Cy-Fair reporter in May 2016 after graduating with a journalism degree from Union University in Jackson, Tennessee. She covers education, local government, business, demographic trends, real estate development and nonprofits.


MOST RECENT

A house in the Balmoral development in Kingwood.
2,300 homes slated along FM 2920 in Hockley

Land Tejas will construct 2,300 new homes in a 646-acre development in Hockley.

The pizza and pasta eatery is opening this fall. (Courtesy Russo’s New York Pizzeria & Italian Kitchen)
Russo’s New York Pizzeria & Italian Kitchen coming soon to Bridgeland

The eatery specializes in New York-style pizza, but calzones, pasta, deli sandwiches, salads and soups are also on the menu.

Harris County Pets facilitates pet adoptions, foster placements and more. (Courtesy Harris County Pets)
Harris County Pets temporarily waives adoption fees to control increase of population

Harris County Pets has exceeded its capacity to house its growing pet population, officials said.

Masterpiece Desserts is opening in late June with plans for a grand opening in late July. (Courtesy Masterpiece Desserts)
Masterpiece Desserts to open Cy-Fair storefront this month

This is the first brick-and-mortar location for the business, which specializes in miniature cheesecakes.

Americans spent 44% more shopping on websites, including Amazon, in 2020 than in 2019. (Courtesy Amazon)
Surge in online shopping strains Houston’s distribution channels

Online spending in the U.S. was up 44% from 2019 to 2020, and transportation expert Bill Eisele said this uptick has put a strain on the region’s transportation system.

According to county officials, 40% of the $125 billion in damage caused by Hurricane Harvey took place within Harris County. (Shawn Arrajj/Community Impact Newspaper)
Texas General Land Office says it is 'not feasible' to request $750M in federal flood aid within 30 days

Houston-area officials ask for 30-day-dealine on the Texas General Land Office's formal request for $750 million in federal flood aid funding, but GLO says it is not possible.

Texas Central has signed a $16 billion contract with Webuild to lead the civil construction team that will build the train. (Rendering courtesy Texas Central)
Texas Central signs $16B construction contract for high-speed rail project

Texas Central could be one step closer to starting construction.

Russ Poppe, the Harris County Flood Control District executive director, will officially step down July 2 after nearly fifteen years in the position. (Courtesy Harris County Flood Control District)
Executive Director Russ Poppe announces resignation from Harris County Flood Control District

Harris County Flood Control District Executive Director Russ Poppe announced his resignation June 11.

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas issued a call for Texans to conserve energy June 14. (Iain Oldman/Community Impact Newspaper)
ERCOT asks Texans to conserve energy with generation outages 2.5 times higher than normal

"This is unusual for this early in the summer season," said Woody Rickerson, ERCOT vice president of grid planning and operations, in a news release.

League City's Helen Hall Library History Club hosted an event related to Juneteenth on June 7. The holiday honors Union Gen. Gordon Granger coming to Galveston in 1865 to announce the liberation of enslaved people in Texas. (Graphic by Justin Howell/Community Impact Newspaper)
Celebrate Juneteenth in Galveston with a movie screening, parade and more on June 17, 19

The Juneteenth Legacy Project, which aims to recontextualize the day and properly communicate its story and relevance, is hosting or advertising numerous events over the course of the holiday weekend.

Missouri City resident Jackie Ward became the chief nursing officer at Texas Children’s Hospital in January. (Photo by Michael Carr Photography, graphic by Chase Brooks/Community Impact Newspaper)
Q&A: Jackie Ward, Texas Children's Hospital chief nursing officer, discusses career, nursing during COVID-19

Prior to becoming chief nursing officer, Missouri City resident Jackie Ward worked as an oncology nurse and in a variety of leadership roles at Texas Children's Hospital.