Want a state parks pass with that COVID vaccine? Walz unveils incentive program

A woman receives his COVID-19 vaccine shot.
St. Cloud resident Ilhan Ali holds steady as nurse Kris Kobienia administers a shot of the COVID-19 vaccination in April at a community clinic hosted by the Islamic Center of St. Cloud.
Paul Middlestaedt for MPR News file

Updated 2:30 p.m.

Gov. Tim Walz on Thursday unveiled a host of incentives to encourage more Minnesotans to get a COVID-19 vaccine.

The perks will be available to 100,000 people who get their first vaccine dose between now and the end of June. They include state park passes, fishing licenses and tickets to the Minnesota State Fair.

Other incentives in the program include passes to the Great Lakes Aquarium, Nickelodeon Universe and Northwoods League baseball games.

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State officials are aiming to have 70 percent of Minnesotans 16 and older vaccinated by July 1, a goalpost President Joe Biden has set for national vaccination rates, too.

"We believe that this is a good way to get some excitement back in it," Walz said of the state’s waning vaccination pace. “These are pretty nice things to have” he said of the perks.

Federal COVID-19 relief money is paying for the incentives, the governor told reporters Thursday as he rolled out the program.

Overall, he was optimistic that the pandemic was in retreat. “There is nothing in the numbers that indicate we’re seeing any rise at all,” he said. “That will only get better as the vaccination rates go up.”

Vaccinations in Minnesota continue to climb, but at a much slower pace than in the early months of the state's vaccine campaign. About 64 percent of Minnesotans 16 and older have gotten at least one shot of a COVID vaccine.

Meanwhile, about 40 percent of the nation is fully vaccinated. This week, CVS announced a sweepstakes for anyone who gets shots at their facilities, with prizes including a cruise and a trip to the Super Bowl.

Vaccines are available at pharmacies, doctors’ offices, community clinics and pop-up events around the state. Some locations require appointments, and others take walk-ins.

A community vaccine site at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds will be giving out COVID-19 vaccines for two more weeks.

The site is offering the Johnson & Johnson single-dose vaccine. While walk-ups are welcome, appointments are also available online.

Asked why Minnesota didn’t try a $1 million lottery like Ohio or a college tuition raffle like New York, Walz noted the Minnesota perks were focused on being outside, which is “very Minnesotan."

The governor added that he wanted to make sure many got something for taking the vaccine. He didn’t rule out sweetening the pot later on.

Watch: Gov. Tim Walz rolls out his vaccination incentives plan.

COVID-19 in Minnesota

Data in these graphs are based on the Minnesota Department of Health's cumulative totals released at 11 a.m. daily. You can find more detailed statistics on COVID-19 at the Health Department website.

The coronavirus is transmitted through respiratory droplets, coughs and sneezes, similar to the way the flu can spread.