MILAM COUNTY, Texas — For the first time in Central Texas, one county is offering a monetary incentive to people who get a COVID-19 vaccination, but not everyone is eligible.
Milam County will pay parents $250 per kid age 12-17 who've received both doses of the vaccine. Kids have to be Milam County residents.
Judge Steve Young said it's all about getting vaccination numbers up to keep the community safe.
"We have about 2,400 kids in this county in that age category and we clearly want them to get vaccinated," Young said.
Right now only 53 kids 12-17 in Milam County are vaccinated. That's only 2%. Judge Young says kids 12-16 will receive the Pfizer brand while those age 17 and up will get Pfizer or Moderna.
"We need 75% of this county to get vaccinated. Right now the herd immunity rate is in the 45% category. We've got a ways to go," Young said. "If we vaccinate 2,400 kids it will bump that up maybe 10% and even that doesn't get us there."
The county is setting aside $600,000 of federal money from the American Rescue Plan to offer the incentive. County commissioners approved the decision Tuesday morning.
"Let me just tell you that's the best use of this money. The idea of the Rescue Plan Act, in part, is to prevent and stop this terrible virus," Young said.
To get the money, parents will need to go to the county's auditors office and bring proof of vaccination, proof they are that child's custodial guardian, and proof they live in the county.
A check will be cut for right there or can be mailed, depending on the parent's preference.
Young said he realizes everyone may not agree with the incentive.
"The response to that is, look we want people vaccinated and if it takes a little monetary incentive to get you to do it, that's fine we're happy to do that," Young said.
For Lorena Banda the decision to get her kids vaccinated is personal.
"I have four sisters and lots of nieces and nephews and we all decided as a family we are all going to do this for my parents because my parents are older. And we are all very close as family," Banda explained.
She said the money was just icing on the cake, but her kids would have gotten it regardless.
"I encourage people to do it, but it's their decision. It's their family," Banda said.
The county plans to host a children's vaccination clinic Thursday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Milam County Health Department in Cameron 209 S. Houston Ave.