Call it ‘cash for vax.’
The city will give $100 to anyone getting their first vaccine dose at a city-run site starting on Friday.
“We’ll say thank you, we’ll say we’re really glad that you got vaccinated, for yourself, for your family, for your community, and here’s $100 to thank you for doing the right thing and to encourage people,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said at his daily press briefing on Wednesday, where he announced the new policy.
City residents and employees will be able to access the Benjamin via a prepaid debit card issued on the city’s vaccine scheduling website, vax4nyc.nyc.gov. After scheduling an appointment, you can either have a digital prepaid card sent to your email or a physical card sent to your home. Then, after getting jabbed, you go back to vax4nyc.nyc.gov/incentives and select the $100, which will be added to the card.
The city is partnering with the debit card company Akimbo for the incentive.
“There are a huge number of New Yorkers open to vaccination, just haven’t quite gotten there,” Hizzoner said. “I think when someone says here’s $100 for you, that’s gonna make a big impact. Particularly in a world in which more and more things are gonna be determined by whether you’re vaccinated or not. That’s where things are going.”
The incentive comes even as the city starts to move away from providing incentives to those getting vaccinated, and implementing mandates as case rates rise due to the highly transmissible Delta variant, and to a slowing vaccination effort. As of July 28, 54.4 percent of New Yorkers are fully vaccinated and 59.2 percent have received at least one dose, according to city data.
On Monday, the mayor announced that all municipal employees will be required to be either vaccinated by September 13, the first day of school, or submit to weekly coronavirus testing.
Ever since vaccine supply stopped being an issue, the city has tried all sorts of incentives to get shots into people’s arms, to questionable success. In addition to the $100 prepaid card, some incentives the city is currently offering include free tickets to a New York City FC or Brooklyn Cyclones game, an annual membership to the Public Theater, a two week Citi Bike membership, a free ride on the Cyclone at Coney Island, and free food at Krispy Kreme and Shake Shack. People who get vaccinated can also enter a sweepstakes with rewards of up to $2,500 cash or a free stay at participating hotels.
Asked whether this and other incentives were unfair to those who got their vaccination without needing any prodding, and simultaneously rewarding those people who in a sense have prolonged the pandemic, the mayor said that it wasn’t fair to assign negative intentions to those who have resisted the jab. Instead, he laid blame on the myriad conspiracy theories about the vaccines which so many people have been taken in by.
“There’s been a huge amount of misinformation, let’s be very clear,” he said. “We’re not dealing in a vacuum here. There’s been horrible misinformation provided, fear stoked, people, particularly through social media, getting anything but the truth. We’ve got a lot we’ve got to overcome.”