Socorro residents line up outside of the county manager’s office Friday to take advantage of the county’s vaccine incentive program. Residents can claim a $50 gift certificate by showing proof of their COVID-19 vaccination.
Cathy Cook | El Defensor Chieftain

Socorro County’s vaccine incentive program has seen an enthusiastic response from residents, with a line stretching outside of the county manager’s office Friday before the program even officially kicked off 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 the county offered for completing the census last year.

Residents can also enter a countywide vaccine lottery that will give 100 people $250 gift certificates. There will be four drawings for the lottery, with the first on July 1. The program is being funded with $75,000 of the $3.2 million allocated to the county from federal American Rescue Plan Funds. People can also get a free ride to get their COVID-19 vaccine if they need one.

 

County Manager Michael Hawkes explains that the supply of gift cards available Friday was almost out. The county had given away $15,000 worth of gift cards by the end of day Monday.
Cathy Cook | El Defensor Chieftain

On Friday the county had already purchased approximately $9,000 worth of gift cards, said County Manager Michael Hawkes and had given out at least 200 cards. By end of day Monday, the county had distributed $15,000 worth of gift cards to residents who showed proof of vaccination.

The location for the card distribution is changing to the county annex building to accommodate the large number of people taking advantage of the incentives. Card distribution was put on pause until 8 a.m. Thursday, July 1 when more cards could be distributed. When all of that allotment is gone, the county will pick another day to start distributing cards again. 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 surprise grand prize, if funds are available,” said Hawkes.

Mario Romero was one of the Socorro residents who lined up for a free gift card Friday. Romero got a gift certificate to ACE Hardware, while his kids got gift cards for local restaurants.

“I think it’s a very good idea. It gives people an incentive to get their vaccine,” he said.

Alfredo Soto was in line for approximately a half hour Friday afternoon outside the county manager’s office. Soto said he thinks the program is good for the people of Socorro, especially coming near the end of the month when people may be running short on money as bills are due.

Dora Lucero was also waiting in line with her vaccine card Friday afternoon. Lucero said she thinks the timing of the program is a good idea, since more people may be encouraged to get vaccinated before the state is supposed to fully reopen on July 1.

“As much as I hate shots, I made myself brave,” said Lucero.

Cathy Cook, El Defensor Chieftain