New vaccine cash incentive receives mixed reviews from local leaders in Twin Tiers

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(WETM/Nexstar Media Wire) – President Biden announced a new plan to provide a cash incentive to newly vaccinated Americans, saying if incentives will encourage unvaccinated people to get their shot, it is worth exploring.

“If incentives help beat this virus, I believe we should use them,” Biden said in a press conference on Thursday.

He is calling on state and local governments to use funds or aid from the American Rescue Plan to provide newly vaccinated residents with a $100 payment. Local health departments have tried this before with various “Shot for a Beer” campaigns, free ice cream, or incentives for other events.

The cash reward for vaccination was one idea in Biden’s latest plan to boost lagging vaccination rates in many parts of the nation. Rolled out Thursday, the core of his new plan is a requirement for federal workers to disclose their vaccination status to their agencies.

The American Rescue Plan allocated $350 billion to states, territorial, and local governments in the form of the State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds Program, according to the Treasury. Biden says states and localities can use money from his COVID relief law to pay for the incentive programs.

Local leaders in the Twin Tiers have mixed opinions. Some believe that the payments are unnecessary.

“It’s an interesting idea. It’s nothing that at least the legislature in Steuben County has discussed at this point,” Jack Wheeler, Steuben County manager, added.

Leaders at the state level agree local governments should use federal funds to recover from lost revenue during the pandemic.

“I don’t believe we should be paying people to get a vaccine. I don’t think we should use those COVID dollars to do that,” Assemblymember Phil Palmesano said.

Other local health experts remain hopeful, adding it could be the boost they needed to get more residents fully vaccinated.

“It stands the reason that it would probably bring a couple of extra people in. The County Executive and I both support it. Cash from the government would potentially work a little bit better,” Chemung County Health Director Pete Buzzetti continued.

Despite the disagreement on how to reach herd immunity, all parties agree that vaccination is the solution to defeat the pandemic in the race against the delta variant.

“I support vaccination and I think you should, but I do understand that we now want to mask up. I think it’s even more important now we’re in a race against time,” Buzzetti concluded.

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