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Prizes boost vaccine rates

Vaccination rates increased statewide this month after Hawaii adult residents were given a chance to win Hawaiian Airlines miles, hotel stays, discounts to their favorite restaurants and more — just for being vaccinated.

Before the #HIGotVaccinated campaign was launched on June 4, officials “were seeing a steady decline of about 20 percent each week in the number of people getting vaccinated in Hawaii,” said Hilton Raethel, president and CEO of Healthcare Association of Hawaii.

But since the campaign touted the availability of more than 80 prizes, along with discount codes, the numbers have reversed and stabilized — there has been a 30 percent increase in vaccination initiation, more than what was predicted, Raethel said during a news conference Tuesday.

And to further incentivize folks to get vaccinated, the campaign will be extended for another round that begins July 12 and will run through August 20, officials announced. The campaign had been scheduled to end today.

Currently 57.8 percent of the state’s population is fully vaccinated, according to statistics from the state Department of Health.

Kauai County leads with 55 percent of its population fully vaccinated, followed by 50 percent each in Hawaii and Honolulu counties. Maui County has 49 percent of its population vaccinated.

To date, there have been 21,500 vaccinations since the campaign was launched. The HIGotVaccinated.com page has had more than 1.28 million views and more than 240,000 people have registered for the chance to win prizes, according to a news release.

Among the site visitors, 61 percent are in the 18-34 age group, the news release said.

Raethel added that “we hope that as summer progresses, we can at least hold steady at our current vaccination levels,” with the goal to reach 60 to 70 percent of the population vaccinated.

The #HIGotVaccinated campaign is supported by Adventist Health Castle, Hawaii Pacific Health, Humana, Kaiser Permanente Hawaii, Maui Health, MDX Hawaii, The Queen’s Health Systems, and donations from businesses statewide.

“The contest started as an alternative method to get people to be encouraged to go get vaccinated or encourage someone they love to get vaccinated,” said Patrick Bullard of H&B Marketing, another of the campaign’s supporters. “We’re making progress to get people vaccinated. We recognize that, if we ended the contest, which was originally planned (today), we may not get as many more people vaccinated.”

Many restaurants and stores across Hawaii have been offering discounts and deals, free meals, and rewards programs for those who can show their vaccination cards.

American Savings Bank, which recently awarded three of its vaccinated employees a $5,000 cash prize, announced that it will be offering three additional $5,000 cash prizes in this next round of the #HIGotVaccinated campaign.

Individuals who registered at HIGotVaccinated.com in June will be automatically entered to win in July. Visit the website for more information.

* Dakota Grossman can be reached at dgrossman@mauinews.com.

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