Source: Elizabeth Kim, Gothamist.
New York City will give $100 to all New Yorkers who receive boosters now through December 31st, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Tuesday.
The offer will apply only at city-run vaccination sites as well as those run by SOMOS Community Care, a network of nearly 2,500 providers that partner with the de Blasio administration. As of Tuesday, New York City has administered more than 1.7 million booster doses, the city’s Health Commissioner Dr. Dave Chokshi said. Nearly six million New Yorkers of all ages — or 71% — are fully vaccinated.
The latest incentive comes 10 days before de Blasio’s tenure ends and represents yet another vaccination push by city officials as the omicron variant drives a startling surge in infections. Health experts expect additional shots to limit omicron’s reach and severity.
“This is the moment,” the mayor said during his press briefing. “Come out in real big numbers, get those booster shots and help make your family safer and help make this whole city safer.”
The new program supplements an already existing $100 incentive for first doses that began in late July.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is recommending boosters for anyone 18 and older who are six months beyond their second Pfizer or Moderna shots. For those who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, the CDC urges those adults to get a second dose of any authorized vaccine two months after their initial shot.
During the mayor’s press conference, Dr. Eric Topol, a professor of molecular medicine at Scripps Research, cited a recent UK health study suggesting that non-boosted individuals have a 35% protection against mild infection from omicron, compared to 75% with the booster.
The latest incentive also comes as the city awaits more testing resources from the federal government. President Joe Biden is expected to announce on Tuesday a rollout of federal test sites across the country, with a debut program reportedly destined for New York City this week. The feds will also distribute 500 million rapid tests for free.
However, as of Tuesday morning, the mayor’s officials said they did not know how many test sites the federal government would establish, nor the amount of rapid tests the city would receive.
Even as de Blasio sought to increase vaccinations to fight the latest wave, the sight of long testing lines has raised questions about his approach to testing.
His team has maintained that testing has doubled over the last three weeks. The city has pledged to deploy 112 test sites, including mobile units, by the end of the week.
At the same time, the city has not been able to deliver an accurate picture of all of the available testing options through its interactive website because it does not include its more than 90 mobile units.
Asked about the omission during the press briefing, Dr. Mitchell Katz, the head of the city’s public hospital system, said, “We do not have the mobile units on the website because we keep them in movement.”
He added: “I don't know that that's a fixable issue.”
De Blasio said one of the challenges with testing, particularly in schools, has been the supply of at-home rapid tests.
“That's been obviously an issue in these last days that we don't have yet the kind of supply we ideally want to have,” he said.