New York state will be raffling off 50 full-ride scholarships to public colleges and universities in an effort to encourage teenagers to get vaccinated against COVID-19.
During a press conference on Wednesday, Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo said all residents aged 12 to 17 who get their first Pfizer-BioNTech shot will be entered into a raffle over the next six weeks.
Adolescents will be selected every week on Wednesdays through July 7 to win one of 10 full four-year scholarships to any State University of New York (SUNY) or City University of New York (CUNY) school for a total of 50.
The scholarships will not only cover tuition, which ranges from $4,800 to $7,070 per year, but also student fees and room and board, which can cost up to $14,110.
This means that any teenager who gets the coronavirus shot could win grants with total winnings of $91,680.
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Governor Andrew Cuomo said New York will be raffling off 50 full scholarships to any public college and universities for vaccinated 12-to-17-year-olds
Any teenager who get a shot through July 7 will be entered in a raffle to win one of 10 scholarships each week to any State University of New York or City University of New York School. Pictured: Eleanor, Palmer (center), 14, holds her best friend’s hand as she gets the Pfizer vaccine, May 14
Cuomo said during the press briefing that 12 to 17-year-olds make up five percent of all COVID-19 tests being performed in New York but 10 percent of the positivity rate.
It is also the age group in the state with the lowest percent fully vaccinated at 8.7 percent.
Although 16- and 17-year-olds have been able to get the Pfizer shot since the rollout in 2020, 12-to-15-year-olds were only approved to receive the jab on May 10.
‘It is an incentive for students 12 to 17 who are planning on going to college,’ Cuomo told reporters.
‘It’s going to be among a small population so your odds are good because it’s only the young population that has been vaccinated. Once you get your vaccine, you go to a website, you input your information and we’ll do a random drawing every Wednesday from that.
‘People who received the vaccine earlier have a greater chance to win because they are eligible for every drawing, every week. It’s not just for those people who get it that week.’
Health department data suggest that New York teenagers make up 5% of all COVID-19 tests performed in the state, but 10% of the positivity rate
Cuomo said just 8.7% of this age bracket has been fully vaccinated because the Pfizer shot wasn’t approved for 12-to-15-year-olds until May 10
In Pfizer’s phase III clinical trial, about 2,200 teenagers were enrolled in the U.S. compared to 40,000 for the aged 16 and older trial.
Half of the group received two doses of the vaccine three weeks apart and the other half were given two placebo injections.
A total of 18 cases of COVID-19 were reported in the placebo group while no cases were reported in the vaccine group.
This means that the vaccine was 100 percent safe and effective in 12-to-15-year-olds, according to the researchers.
What’s more, side effects were similar to those seen in the larger trial among 16-to-25-year-olds, including pain at the injection site, tiredness, fever and headaches.
However, despite the promising results, many parents are not enthusiastic about vaccinating their children.
In a recent poll, conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation, parents were asked if they would get their child immunized once a COVID-19 vaccine is authorized and available for their child’s age group.
Only about three in 10 parents – 29 percent – of children under 18 said they would get their child vaccinated ‘right away.’
The poll also found 15 percent only plan to vaccinate their children if the school requires it and 19 percent said their child will definitely not be getting vaccinated.
What’s more, although children can contract COVID-19 and pass the disease on to others, they tend to not get very ill.
More than 3.94 million children have tested positive for the virus as of Monday, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, but only make up 0.1 percent of all deaths.