Q&A with the City Counsel’s office: Vaccine incentives

Alexis Blane
Counsel to the Mayor Team Headshots. 253 Broadway, Manhattan. Friday, November 13, 2020. Credit: Ed Reed/Mayoral Photography Office.

Why is the City offering vaccine incentives?

We know that the single most important thing we can do to protect New Yorkers from COVID-19 in get as many people as possible vaccinated.  In the early spring, we were focused on making sure the most vulnerable got their shots first.  But once supply increased, it was about generating rather than controlling demand.  The incentives are a way to reach people who might otherwise not make time to get vaccinated.  They go along with a host of other initiatives, like mobile vaccine sites and making vaccinations totally free of charge.

What are the incentives?

They include everything from ferry rides to Cyclones tickets. And as of July 28, anyone who receives their first dose can get a pre-paid debit card $100.  We also offered incentives to community-based organizations who could organize to bring people in for vaccines via the Referral Bonus Program.  Those organizations know their communities well and so we wanted to enlist them as partners in reaching people who were hesitant or needed logistical assistance.

Is it working?

We think so, and the Biden administration does, too.  They recently urged more states and cities to adopt the $100 gift card incentive that NYC has.  That, combined with recently announced mandates, has increased our vaccination rates by almost 40% in the last weeks.  More than 70% of adults in New York City have now received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.  That’s more than 10 million doses administered.  But there is still a ways to go, especially with the Delta variant.

Where does this end?

Hopefully with a vaccination rate that approaches 100%.  Vaccination is critical to ensuring public safety in the face of the highly contagious Delta variant.  The recent announcements of mandates for City employees to be vaccinated or regularly tested, as well as new vaccine requirements to dine indoors or attend performances, demonstrate how seriously we are taking the risk.  We know vaccines are the most effective way to reduce it. And vaccine incentives are the other side of that coin: a way to help people make a decision that protects not only them but also their friends, family, and colleagues.

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