​​​COLUMBUS, Ohio — Health officials in Ohio are rolling out a vaccination push that will involve new incentives and targeted vaccine clinics in communities where uptake has been the lowest.

What You Need To Know

  • Vaccine incentives are coming back in Ohio

  • Health departments to offer $100 gift cards

  • Areas with low vaccination rates are the targets

The state is sending counties data that identifies the census tracts within their jurisdictions that have the lowest vaccination rates, an official said. Local health departments will hold vaccine clinics in these census tracts, offering $100 incentives to residents getting a first-dose. 

State health officials have had a series of meetings in recent weeks with counties involved in a pilot of the “Data First” project, Clark County Health Commissioner Charles Patterson told Spectrum News.

In July, $100 vaccine incentives began to become available through local health departments in Ohio counties. By September, the incentives were available in much of the state. Federal stimulus funds were used to make those previous incentives available. 

Patterson said the Clark County Combined Health District had to stop offering $100 gift cards at the end of December. He is excited to be able to now bring the incentive back for upcoming clinics in the most vulnerable census tracts. He said it's all part of a "major last push" in Ohio for residents to get their first vaccinations.

The new vaccine incentives are expected to be paid for with American Rescue Plan dollars, while the 2021 incentives were funded through the CARES Act, Patterson said.

The other key difference: 75% of the $100 incentives have to be given out in targeted census tracts, Patterson said. 

“That's why these outreach clinics are very important,” he said. 

About five counties are involved with the Data First pilot, including urban and rural counties. Patterson shared a document compiled by the program's analysts, which showed that four census tracts in Clark County have low vaccination rates. 


The document, which Patterson received last week, highlighted low vaccination rates among children and young adults. It also included demographic information about unvaccinated residents in the target census tracts.

The $100 gift cards for vaccination are also available to Ohio Medicaid recipients. Ohio Managed Care Plans recently extended the incentive for patients 5 and older through June 30.

The Ohio Department of Health did not respond to a request for comment about the $100 incentives and Data First.