May 10, 2021

From museum passes to target shooting: State plans to offer ‘free stuff’ for vaccinations

Illinois officials are offering “incentives” to residents to get immunized against COVID-19 – starting at a downstate shooting facility where those who get shots also get free targets.

At an event at the World Shooting and Recreational Complex in downstate Sparta Tuesday, Gov. JB Pritzker said anyone 18 and older who comes to the facility May 14 or May 15 to get vaccinated at a mobile site will receive 100 free targets to use at the complex through October. The trap, skeet or sporting clay targets are valued at between $26 and $35.

“And there will be a lot of free stuff I’ll be announcing to get people vaccinated,” Pritzker said.

Administrators at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield also announced anyone fully vaccinated can receive free admission throughout this month and June.

Vaccinations throughout the state have plateaued in recent weeks.

Tuesday, state health officials announced 40,361 more COVID-19 doses were administered over the past 24 hours statewide. It’s the fourth straight day fewer than 100,000 vaccine shots have been reported.

However, Illinois Department of Public Health officials said figures from pharmacy chains have still yet to be updated for the past two days because of a “national outage” in the pharmacy reporting system.

Illinois would not be the first state to offer incentives to get more residents vaccinated. Some states, like New Jersey, are offering booze. Maryland is offering money. West Virginia is offering savings bonds.

Last week, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky bristled at the idea of providing incentives to unvaccinated individuals during a call with Dr. Marc Siegel on Sirius XM’s “Doctor Radio Reports” show.

“What I really want to be clear of is the reason to get vaccinated is because it prevents sickness, it prevents hospitalizations and it prevents deaths,” she said. “So that actually should be incentive enough. That’s an incredible benefit of these vaccinations we’re seeing over and over again that they work to do all of those things.”

Pritzker also urged any residents who wanted to get vaccinated to call the state’s hotline at 833-621-1284 to find the nearest available doses. Pritzker said in many cases, operators are able to find doses the same day residents call.

The total number of vaccines administered in Illinois is now up to 9,450,418, Illinois Department of Public Health records show. More than 4.1 million Illinois residents and workers have now also been fully vaccinated, which means they are at least two weeks removed from their final vaccine dose.

IDPH officials Tuesday also announced 19 more COVID-19 deaths along with 2,211 new cases of the disease diagnosed.

That brings the state’s death toll from COVID-19 to 22,066, while 1,343,988 residents have tested positive for the virus.

Hospitals statewide are reporting 2,074 patients are being treated for the virus, with 493 of them in intensive care beds.

The number of hospitalized patients has increased by 158 in just the past two days. Patient loads at hospitals in Will, Lake and McHenry counties have increased in the past few days, contributing the statewide increase, according to IDPH records. However, the state’s seven-day average number of patients is still declining and now sits at 2,035 for the past week.

And the state’s seven-day case positivity average is at 3.3%, its lowest point since the end of March.

Case positivity allows health officials to track the level of infection within a certain population and shows the percentage of new cases derived from a batch of tests. A seven-day average is used to account for any anomalies in the daily reporting of those figures.

Elsewhere, Kane County Health Department officials announced a new vaccination site at the Spring Hill Mall in West Dundee will open Friday and 400 appointments have been set aside for county residents. Appointments are available for anyone 16 and older, indicating the Pfizer vaccine is in use there.

For more information about the new site, visit kanevax.org.