Cities and states across the country are offering young children cash and other rewards to get vaccinated against COVID-19, an echo of the incentives offered during the spring and summer when average daily vaccinations peaked across the country.
The renewed array of offerings comes just days after health officials officially authorized the Pfizer-BioNTech for use in children aged 5-11 years old. The dosage is around a third of the amount given to adults, and the U.S. government has promised to have enough supply for all 28 million children in the age group.
“As soon as next week, we will have enough vaccine in enough places, and parents will be able to schedule appointments to get their kids their first shot,” President Joe Biden said on Wednesday evening.
The administration started shipping out supplies over the weekend, and a handful of children got vaccinated just hours after CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky gave final approval for the vaccine on Tuesday.
Cities like Chicago, home to one of the nation’s largest school districts, will begin hosting pop-up vaccine sites at four different schools and via a mobile van next Wednesday — and is offering $100 to students age 5 and up who get vaccinated at a Chicago Public Schools event, or one sponsored by the health department.
“Parents and guardians will now have the opportunity to ensure the safety of their young ones, which will not only make the spaces in which they interact with others safe, but will propel us towards accomplishing our citywide goal of vaccinating as many of our residents as possible,” Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said during a Friday press conference.
In New York City, children who get the shot at either a government-funded location or at pop-up locations in public schools will be eligible for a $100 prepaid debit card, or alternatively can pick from a number of other prizes like New York City Football Club tickets, Brooklyn Cyclones tickets or a NYC Ferry 10-ride pass.
"We really want kids to take advantage, families take advantage of that," Mayor Bill de Blasio said Thursday. "Everyone could use a little more money around the holidays. But, most importantly, we want our kids and our families to be safe."
Every public school that serves 5-11 year-olds will host at least one day-long vaccine pop-up site beginning Nov. 8 through Nov. 15.
Another city offering a monetary incentive is San Antonio, Texas, which will give vaccines to children aged 5-11 starting Nov. 10. Parents or guardians who take their kids to get vaccinated at a Metro Health center can get a $100 gift card to HEB grocery stores.
Other statewide initiatives, like Minnesota’s “Kids Deserve a Shot!” campaign, are not yet available to the youngest age group. Instead, Minnesotans aged 12-17 who complete their full vaccine regimen between Oct. 18 - Nov. 30 can get a $200 Visa gift card; people 12-17 who got vaccinated at any time in 2021 can enter to win a $100,000 Minnesota College scholarship.
In the U.S., nearly 60% of the population — more than 193 million people — are fully vaccinated. More than 21 million have received a booster dose, and those numbers are soaring each day. The average number of Americans getting booster shots has reached nearly 800,000 per day. That compares with about 265,000 people per day getting their first shot.
It’s still too early to know how many children under 12 have gotten shots in the three days they have been available.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.