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Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz speaking at a press conference in April. Photo: Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

The first 100,000 Minnesotans who get vaccinated against the coronavirus between Memorial Day weekend and the end of June will be eligible for free state parks passes, free fishing licenses or other rewards, Gov. Tim Walz (D) announced Thursday.

Why it matters: The incentives are part of the state's effort to increase vaccinations. 61% of Minnesotans 12 years and older have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, but the pace of doses administered daily has slowed since its peak in April, according to the Minnesota Star Tribune.

Details: Along with the parks pass and fishing license, the state is also offering a ticket to the Great Lakes Aquarium in Duluth, ride vouchers at Nickelodeon Universe at the Mall of America, free admission to the Minnesota Zoo and several other statewide attractions, and a $25 Visa Card.

What they're saying: "We do want to encourage people to get out there," Walz said at a press conference Thursday.

  • "We wanted to tailor this to Minnesota attractions, staying and doing things in Minnesota," the governor added.

The big picture: The state has used similar incentive programs for other health initiatives, such as lead screening in children and the completion of tuberculosis therapy in adults, according to the Star Tribune.

  • The state is aiming to have 70% of its population ages 16 and up vaccinated by the Fourth of July, which is similar to a national goal set by President Biden.
  • Walz said the incentives will be financed through federal coronavirus relief funding.

Go deeper

Sep 2, 2021 - Health

Israeli coronavirus vaccine booster data gives the U.S. hope

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Preliminary Israeli data shows that coronavirus booster shots quickly spike a person's protection against both severe disease and infection, suggesting that the additional shots could help blunt the virus' spread in the U.S. — although it's very unclear how much.

Why it matters: The Biden administration has said that the main rationale for its booster push is to stay ahead of any waning of the vaccines' effectiveness against severe disease. But slowing the spread of the Delta variant would be a welcome bonus.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Vaccines: Fauci: "I would vaccinate them in a second" — CDC says some immunocompromised people can get fourth COVID shot — FDA panel endorses Pfizer vaccines for 5-11 year olds.
  2. Health: COVID cases fall by 20% — Public health messaging lessons for the next pandemic — Common antidepressant guards against COVID hospitalization, study finds — COVID cases, deaths at meat plants were far higher than previously thought.
  3. Politics: NYC firefighters union urges members to defy mayor's vaccine mandate — Judge rejects Southwest pilots' challenge to vaccine mandate — Louisiana lifts mask mandate except for some schools.
  4. Education: Benefits of vaccine for children outweigh risks, FDA says — Education secretary reveals limits to Biden’s mask push on states — LA extends deadline for school employee vaccinations.
  5. Variant tracker: Where different strains are spreading.

Ousted Tennessee vaccine chief sues state officials for defamation over firing

Michelle Fiscus. Photo: William DeShazer for The Washington Post via Getty Images

Michelle Fiscus, Tennessee’s fired vaccine chief, filed a federal defamation lawsuit on Thursday, alleging state officials skewed facts and misled the public as part of a coordinated campaign to destroy her reputation.

The backdrop: Fiscus was fired in July after facing criticism from Republican lawmakers over messaging to teenagers about the COVID-19 vaccine. A public battle ensued over Fiscus and her job performance.