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Frio County launches $100 vaccine incentive program to stall spread of coronavirus

Half of Frio County residents are fully vaccinated, as of this week. The goal is to boost vaccination rates to at least 75%.

PEARSALL, Texas — The Frio County government is offering $100 cash to unvaccinated residents who get the jab as part of a new incentive program funded through the federal American Rescue Plan Act.

“Everybody knows each other in this small town and that’s where you hear, 'Well, they took my family, my dad, my mom or kids, Air Life to San Antonio, very sick with the COVID,'" said Frio County Judge Arnulfo Luna.

Luna became infected with the coronavirus in December. He eventually got the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.  

“When I did get the COVID, it did affect me as far as my breathing and I get tired right away and then I still get that little feather in my throat,” Luna said.

Half of Frio County’s 20,000 residents are fully vaccinated, as of this week. County officials have reported 3,532 total cases and 64 deaths as a result of the coronavirus.  

The vaccine incentive program aims to boost the coronavirus immunization rate to at least 75%.

Frio County residents who’ve not been fully vaccinated can register for the incentive program at the Frio County judge’s office. Participants must be at least 12 years old and provide picture ID.

Those under 18 will require written permission from a parent or guardian because the incentive is disbursed.

Eligible participants who become fully vaccinated between Sept. 14 and Oct. 30 must return the completed form by Nov. 30 to receive the $100 payout.

“We’ve lost a lot of friends and relatives. That’s why we went with this incentive to try to get more people involved and get their vaccines for their families themselves,” Luna said.

Pearsall resident Esequiel Morales is six-months vaccinated.

“I just feel safe with it for my kids,” Morales said.

He believes money may convince those who’ve opposed the FDA-approved vaccines.

“They’re still rejecting it, so I guess with money...people love money,” Morales said.

Dr. Oliver Williams works on the frontlines at Frio Regional Hospital.

“It’s so tragic to see patients come in with rapid respirations and you can’t do anything for them no matter what you do. It doesn’t help,” Williams said.

Williams said he’s all for the county’s monetary incentive program, hoping it leads to reducing the spread of coronavirus and enhance community-wide safety.

“I’m encouraging everybody I see. I spend a lot of time and I feel sometimes I’m batting my head against a blank wall, but everybody has to be encouraged,” Williams said.

More information on Frio County’s vaccine incentive program is available here