New York City will start paying $100 to people who get vaccinated against Covid-19 at a city-run vaccination site, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Wednesday, making the city’s government the latest to offer a cash incentive for the vaccine hesitant.
The payments will start Friday for anyone who receives their first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine at one of the city’s vaccination sites, which will be paid in the form of a $100 prepaid debit card.
New Yorkers can find a vaccine site through the city’s Vaccine Finder or by calling 1-877-VAX-4NYC.
The payment is one of a number of vaccine incentives New York City is offering, including subway Metrocards, memberships for cultural attractions, free Shake Shack and a lottery to win stays at local hotels and a $2,500 cash prize.
New York City said Monday that all municipal workers must provide proof of vaccination or submit to weekly Covid-19 tests starting Sept. 13, as the city deals with an increase in infections related to the highly transmissible Delta variant.
De Blasio has so far resisted calls for a new mask mandate and emphasized vaccines to stop the spread of Covid-19 instead, saying last week, “Vaccination is the answer.”
The mayor has taken an increasingly exasperated tone on vaccine hesitancy, saying last week it’s “insane” and “I’m like, come on people…what more do we have to do at this point?”
59.2%. That’s the percentage of New York City residents who have received at least one dose of the Covid-19 vaccine, according to the city’s health department, including 70.9% of all adults. Covid-19 cases and hospitalizations in the city are increasing, with the city now reporting a seven-day average of 653 cases versus an average of just 247 cases on July 4.
New York State mandated vaccination for all state employees Wednesday, after New York City ordered their workers to get the shot earlier this week and in light of the federal government reportedly planning to require vaccines for their workforce.
New York City follows other places across the country that have offered payments of $100 for vaccinations to some residents, including West Virginia, Maryland and Ohio. A number of states have also set up vaccine lotteries that have awarded cash prizes of as much as $1 million. While the effectiveness of those lotteries has been unclear—a study in JAMA found Ohio’s vaccination rate actually declined after its million-dollar lottery was announced—direct cash payments could be more effective. A survey conducted by the UCLA Covid-19 Health and Politics Project in March and April found 34% of unvaccinated respondents would be more likely to get vaccinated if they received a $100 payment, though 15% said the cash bonus would actually make them less likely to get the shot.
A study by researchers from the University of Pennsylvania and Weill Cornell Medical College published in January suggested cash payments for vaccinations could be ethically flawed and potentially “counterproductive.” The researchers note that paying people to be vaccinated “robs the act of moral significance,” and suggested that paying people would not overcome their hesitancy about the vaccine being developed too quickly or its side effects. “Cash incentives might reasonably be expected to heighten these apprehensions or raise new ones, as offers of payment are often understood to signal that a behavior is undesirable or risky,” the researchers wrote. “In a climate characterized by widespread distrust of government and propensity to endorse conspiracy theories, those who are already Covid-19 vaccine hesitant might perceive that the government would not be willing to pay people to get vaccinated if the available vaccines were truly safe and effective.”
$100 as Incentive to Get a Shot? Experiment Suggests It Can Pay Off. (New York Times)