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Oneida County will use app-based gift cards to incentivize vaccinations

Oneida County Government YouTube
Oneida County Executive Anthony Picente.

Oneida County hopes an app-based vaccination incentive boosts coronavirus vaccination numbers that have plateaued.

The Boost Oneida County program is the first of its kind in the nation, according to County Executive Anthony Picente. That’s because it uses app-based technology to offer residents gift cards from local businesses, if they get a shot.

"It gets them to get vaccinated,” Picente said. “They can go get lunch or something else on us, and our local businesses benefit because they build their customer base as well."

Picente said the app-based gift cards, which could range from $50 on up, should appeal to the younger demographic, which has been slow to get vaccinated. Picente is working out details of the plan, and said he wants to get other municipalities to pitch in, with the American Rescue Plan a potential source of funding. He hopes it’s in place by summer.

"Possibly next month at this time, or even the first of July having this kicked off, because we’re still dealing with a large percentage,” he said. “When I look at Oneida County alone, we’re at about 54% at first dose compliance, and 48% completely vaccinated."

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.