Some U.S. cities are giving parents $100 to get kids vaccinated

FAN Editor

Parents are already being urged by public health officials to get their young children vaccinated against COVID-19 now that kid-size doses of Pfizer-BioNTech are available to them. And in cities such as Chicago and New York, parents now have an added incentive to get youngsters inoculated: $100 in cash.

]New York City for weeks has offered the financial incentive to other age groups eligible to get a COVID-19 vaccine, but children 5 to 11 years old are now also eligible for the money, Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a news briefing on Thursday.

“It buys a whole lot of candy, that’s right,” the mayor quipped, when answering questions about the city’s vaccination campaign, which now includes those who’ll need parental consent to roll up their sleeves. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Tuesday recommended that children five years and older get vaccinated against the coronavirus. Vaccines had previously been cleared by the CDC for only those 12 and older. 

New York City expects to receive 330,000 vaccine doses in the next few days, and plans to hold one-day vaccination clinics at schools around the city next week, Dr. Dave Chokshi, the city’s health commissioner, told the gathering. The $100 carrot came with an appeal from the physician to parents and caregivers to “get your children vaccinated as soon as possible.” 

Children begin receiving Pfizer COVID vaccine… 07:16

“If we were to vaccinate every New Yorker aged 5 to 11, we would prevent an estimated 38,000 cases of COVID-19,” said Chokshi, citing a CDC presentation earlier in the week.

“Vaccine-preventable disease”

“Remember that some of these infections also result in hospitalizations, ICU admissions and long-term effects from COVID-19 like shortness of breath and brain fog,” Chokshi cautioned. “With the vaccine we have a chance to make COVID-19 largely a vaccine-preventable disease among kids, similar to chickenpox, rubella and rotaviru — all diseases for which childhood immunization is now routine.” 

Chicago health officials are also offering families $100 gift cards for children 5 to 11 when they get vaccinated at city health events or clinics. In San Antonio, Texas, parents and guardians can collect a $100 gift card for H-E-B grocery stores when they bring their small ones into city public health clinics to get vaccinated. Louisiana is also offering $100 to families with 5- to 11-year-olds who get their shots. 

Still, there’s evidence that such incentives may not work as intended. A study last month found state-run vaccine lotteries to be ineffective in boosting vaccination rates

The Delta variant led to record surges in COVID-19 hospitalizations among younger children this year, CDC data suggests, despite around 38% of kids potentially having antibodies from a prior infection. 

Thousands of children ages 5 to 11 years old have been hospitalized for COVID-19, and 172 have died. Though they are at a far lower risk of severe COVID-19 than adults, many children with the virus have also faced long-term side effects or complications of the disease.

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