Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York on Wednesday added to the growing list of perks and incentives offered to those getting vaccinated against the coronavirus. He announced that any state resident between the ages of 12 and 17 who gets a first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine starting on Thursday would be entered into a raffle to win a full-ride scholarship to a New York public university.
The incentive was designed to spur vaccinations among young people. Many younger people only became eligible recently, and the Pfizer vaccine was not made available to 12- to-15-year olds until earlier this month. Moderna said on Tuesday that its vaccine, which is authorized only for use in adults, was powerfully effective in 12- to 17-year-olds, and that it planned to apply for authorization in June.
Still, Mr. Cuomo said overall vaccinations in the state had declined considerably in recent weeks, and young people may feel that they have not been considered a priority age group for vaccination.
“It is an incentive for students,” he said. “You’re planning on going to college. You are wondering about how you’re going to pay for it.”
Parents of New York residents ages 12 to 17 who get vaccinated can choose to add their child to a pool of names. Every week for five weeks, state officials will randomly select 10 names for the scholarships, which cover tuition, room and board, books and transportation.
The estimated costs for a student living on campus at a State University of New York location, for example, are: $7,070 for tuition, $14,110 for room and board, $1,290 for books and supplies and $1,010 for transportation
An existing state program, the Excelsior Scholarship, is designed to cover only tuition costs for some students whose families earn $125,000 or less per year, in combination with other financial aid programs.
State officials did not offer any other restrictions on eligibility for the raffle program on Wednesday.
The raffle is one of an array of incentives officials in New York are offering to people who get vaccinated. As of Wednesday, 55 percent of state residents have received at least one shot, and 44 percent are fully vaccinated,
Those who get vaccinated at walk-in sites in some subway stations can get a free seven-day MetroCard. People who get a first shot at New York City-run sites can get free tickets to a Brooklyn Cyclones game or a free 10 ride pass on the New York City ferry system, among other incentives. The governor announced earlier this week that anyone getting vaccinated before May 31 can get a free two-day pass to any state park.
The U.S. pace of vaccinations has declined sharply since mid-April and President Biden has moved to shift the nation’s vaccination strategy toward more local efforts that could appeal to younger people or those who may not yet have gotten a shot. Mr. Biden and Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the nation’s top expert on infectious diseases, recently answered questions about vaccine hesitancy from several young YouTube influencers. And last week, top health officials highlighted efforts by popular dating apps to encourage singles to promote their vaccination status on their dating profiles.
Andy Slavitt, one of Mr. Biden’s virus advisers, said the administration was encouraging states to use creative means — including lotteries or other financial incentives — to get people vaccinated. The federal government is allowing states to use certain federal relief funds to pay for those types of programs.
New York state officials said the raffle program would be financed through federal Covid-19 relief and outreach funds.
COURTESY – THE NEW YORK TIMES