Boosting business and immunity: Oneida Co. plans to pay people with gift cards to incentivize vaccinations

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UTICA, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — The Oneida County Executive wants to pay people an incentive to get vaccinated against coronavirus.

There’s a catch. The money has to be used as a gift card to a local business.

At his State of the County Address, Oneida County Executive Anthony Picente announced his intent to use federal stimulus money to give people $50-$100 credits that can be used to boost business at restaurants and shops.

In an interview with NewsChannel 9, Picente explained more details of the program. Oneida County would partner with the same app that other states and countries have used for their own incentives.

The county has not decided on how much each person would get, but has committed somewhere between $50 and $100. Picente hasn’t determined what the overall budget for the program would be.

A survey is being sent to local businesses to gauge interest in participating, so a list is not yet available.

Unlike Onondaga County’s coupon book only available to people vaccinated during a specific time frame, the Oneida County Executive hopes to make his incentive available retroactively to people who already got their shot.

Picente says it won’t matter where people get the shot, whether it’s a county-run clinic, state-run clinic or pharmacy.

According to New York State, 45.2% of people in Oneida County have gotten at least one shot of the vaccine. Comparatively, 55% of people in Onondaga County have.

Picente says, “If you haven’t gotten it, go get it. It protects you, protects coworkers, your family, your children, your parents, grandparents. There’s things in life where it’s not just all about yourself.”

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