Wasco City Council approves COVID-19 vaccine incentive program

June 13, 2022 /

Picture taking during a vaccine clinic in Wasco hosted by the United Against COVID-19 (UAC) Coalition

In order to boost vaccination rates in the city, the Wasco City Council has implemented an incentive plan that will allow those getting vaccinated to receive a $50 gift card for doing so. 

“If you look at vaccination rates throughout the county, our city is one of the lowest.  As a result of that, we do have the highest number of infections in the county, at around 40 percent,” stated the Mayor of Wasco, Gilberto Reyna, on the importance of implementing this plan. “It’s very important to prevent serious illness for people that get infected.” 

As of June 9, 75.5 percent of people aged five and up are fully vaccinated in the state of California. In the city of Wasco, however, only 50.2 percent of those aged five and up have completed their vaccination series. 

According to the official California state government website, “COVID-19 disproportionately affects California’s low-income, Latino, Black, and Pacific Islander communities, as well as essential workers such as those in health care, grocery, and cleaning services.”

Additionally, the site shows that the death rate for Latino people is 13 percent higher than statewide, the case rate for Pacific Islanders is 80 percent higher than statewide, the death rate for Black people is 18 percent higher than statewide, and the case rate for communities with a median income less than $40,000 is 21 percent higher than statewide. 

The United States Census Bureau estimates that 84.1 percent of Wasco’s population is Hispanic or Latino and the 2016-2020 median household income was $39,291.

“I requested that the Council consider using ARPA funds for incentivizing people to get vaccinated. Our overall vaccination rate is low and so I wanted to make sure that we increase that,” said Wasco Mayor Gilberto Reyna. 

The Wasco City Council voted to spend $25,000 purchasing Visa and Mastercard gift cards for those looking to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. 

“This will promote vaccination within our residents and as a result of that we will have a healthier community, and that is exciting to me,” said Mayor Reyna. 

The City of Wasco hopes to begin distributing gift cards as soon as June 26 during the community vaccination clinic at the Wasco Old Courthouse from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m. in partnership with the United Against COVID-19 (UAC) Coalition. 

The UAC Coalition is a group of local organizations that are spreading vaccine equity throughout Kern County by hosting vaccination clinics in communities most impacted by COVID-19. Additionally, the coalition is distributing PPE and providing a range of other services in a variety of languages with cultural respect.

Victoria Rodgers

Victoria Rodgers is an editor and reporter for Kern Sol News. Born in Bakersfield, CA, she received her Bachelor of Arts in English from Rockford University in Illinois. She can be reached at victoria@southkernsol.org.