The city government has doled out $25 million in payments to New Yorkers getting their shots in exchange for $100 over the last two months, as 250,000 people have taken advantage of the bonus program, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Monday.
“We know when we put out the idea of the $100 incentive it just caught like wildfire, you can tell people heard it, it made sense for them,” hizzoner said during his daily press briefing Oct. 4.
Almost half of the quarter of a million people who received the cash for vax bonus were Latino, or 45%, and some 40% were aged 18-35. De Blasio lauded the program as getting more shot in arms within harder-to-reach demographics.
“[Latinos] went from a community that was very much under-vaccinated to now surge in the number of vaccinations, a community that’s well-vaccinated and that’s continuing,” said de Blasio. “The whole idea was to reach people who weren’t getting reached and it worked like a charm, massive amount of uptake, making people safer.”
De Blasio launched the attention-grabbing Benjamin bait in late July, offering any New Yorker who got at their first dose at a city-run site $100 in the form of a pre-paid debit card sent to them after getting the shot.
The scheme joined an array of other rewards, such as tickets to see the New York City Football Club or the Brooklyn Cyclones, a 10-ride pass on the NYC Ferry system, or a two-week membership of Citi Bike.
Local businesses and community or faith groups could also rake in some extra dough by referring their customers and members to get the vaccine, and one Bronx barber, who joined the mayor’s presser, directed a whopping 157 people to getting the shot, earning him a comfortable cut of $15,700.
“While we’re not necessarily relying on the $100 from the vaccination, it’s a great way for the recovery from the pandemic because our small businesses were affected because of the pandemic,” said Nestor Lebron, owner of The Barber Factory on Laconia Avenue. “We’re using the incentive to help vaccinate our neighborhoods.”
De Blasio acknowledged that he would have liked people across the Five Boroughs to get their shot without having to shell out $25 million in municipal money, but maintained that it was a good investment.
“It’s money well spent, unquestionably,” de Blasio said. “I wish people had heard all of the science, all of the facts, all of the information that was being offered to them and done the right thing before the incentive.”
The mayor chalked up the need for the bonus to distrust in government fueled by former President Donald Trump.
“People have been fed a nonstop diet of misinformation, very much coming out of the reality of the rise of Donald Trump and all the forces unleashed by it,” de Blasio said. “A lot has happened to cause distrust and misunderstanding and we’ve had to fight against that, this has been one of the tools that’s worked.”