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Ray McGuire says New Yorkers should get $100 spending voucher to get COVID-19 vaccine

Ray McGuire, a NYC mayoral candidate, speaks during a press conference where Asian American leaders and candidates for New York City Mayor denounce the rise of attacks against Asian Americans at the National Action Network in New York City on March 18, 2021.
REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz

More than 6.5 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine are in arms across New York City, but mayoral candidate Ray McGuire has a green idea to get more residents inoculated.

The former Citicorp executive released a vaccine plan Thursday which includes offering up to 1 million New Yorkers a $100 voucher to get the shot. The voucher could then be used in the five boroughs to buy goods from local small businesses, or enjoy a meal at a fine local restaurant.

“Providing an incentive will not only help encourage more people to get vaccinated, it will stimulate the economy,” McGuire said.

McGuire’s monetary incentive plan is similar to one launched this week in West Virginia, Governor Jim Justice announced that residents of his state, ages 18 to 34, would get a $100 savings bond if they get the vaccine. 

This week, Mayor Bill de Blasio also spoke of potentially offering incentives for New Yorkers to get vaccinated though he pointed out that various businesses and organizations across the five boroughs offer their own rewards for getting the shot — from free admission to the American Museum of Natural History to free Krispy Kreme Doughnuts.

During his appearance on MSNBC’s Morning Joe Thursday morning, de Blasio indicated that continuing to expand vaccine availability will be key toward not only getting more residents vaccinated, but also reopening the city at full strength on July 1.

“I think there’s hesitancy in some – you know, some folks are never going to want a vaccine. I understand that. Most folks who haven’t gotten it yet, what we’re seeing is, it’s a matter of convenience, it’s a matter of getting answers to fair questions,” de Blasio said. “We’re encouraging doctors now to reach out proactively individually to patients, answer their questions, make it easy for them to come in and get that shot. We’re saying the pharmacies go to walk-ins right now, make it easy. What I’m seeing more and more is, folks are willing if they know it’s going to be a simple and fast experience and the walk-in reality is changing everything.”

Still, the mayor did not rule out a potential vaccine incentive program — though he did not specify what such a program might look like.

“We’re going to have incentives. That, to me, is the way forward,” he said.

In the meantime, McGuire said he isn’t waiting for further government actions — as he’s mobilized his own campaign to drum up participation in the vaccine effort.

“As part of our campaign, our field teams are in the neighborhoods with the lowest vaccination rates, knocking on the doors of some of the hardest to reach New Yorkers and giving them information about the nearest vaccination sites,” McGuire said. 

The candidate said his vaccine incentive program would be paid through federal relief dollars. His three-point plan also includes greater public education about the vaccine and where it can be obtained, and expanding outreach to non-English speaking communities.

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