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Hochul announces COVID vaccine contests for young kids to win free public college

Roberto Rivera, 8, reacts as he receives the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at Cohen Children's Medical Center as vaccines were approved for children aged 5-11, amid the coronavirus disease pandemic, in New Hyde Park, New York, U.S., November 4, 2021. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly

Young New Yorkers getting their COVID-19 shot can enter a statewide competition for a full scholarship at a public city or state college, including tuition, fees, and room and board, Governor Kathy Hochul announced Tuesday.

“There’s two great gifts you can give your children: one is the gift of good health and that’s what they’ll get when you get them vaccinated, and secondly, the shot at getting this full-ride scholarship,” Hochul said at a press conference in Westchester County on Nov. 9.

The five-week contest dubbed “Vaccinate, Educate, Graduate,” is open for kids aged 5-11, who are newly-eligible for the shot, to be among 50 winners the state will select between Nov. 22–Dec. 20, Hochul said.

“So if one of your children wins this, you should probably take them to Disney World because that’ll be a very good thing — you’ll have extra money now, you don’t have to be saving for college,” said the governor.

The offer includes schools under the City University of New York (CUNY) and State University of New York (SUNY) systems and parents or legal guardians can enter their 5-11-year-old to win online at governor.ny.gov/nysvaccineincentive.

The effort is part of a campaign to get school-aged kids vaccinated, as the overall inoculation rate in the Empire State for at least one dose hit 75% Tuesday.

Hochul wants to also launch a design contest to allow children to design state vaccine stickers.

“I’ll admit — with all due respect to whoever designed them — they could be a little more creative,” she said. “I want to see what the kids want to see, I want to see what would excite the kids.”

Hochul said one of the top questions she gets is when the state will lift mask mandates in schools.

“I want them to stop wearing masks in schools. The key to doing that is getting them vaccinated,” she said.

New York City Mayor-elect Eric Adams said during a recent interview that he wants to lift the mask mandate in schools sometime next year if COVID-19 cases continue to fall.

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