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Mayor Bowser announces new COVID-19 vaccine incentives, targeted at kids 12 and older

Kids and teens in D.C. could win $51 gift cards, AirPods, iPads and even a $25,000 college scholarship for getting the shot.

WASHINGTON — Mayor Muriel Bowser announced new COVID-19 vaccine incentives Thursday to hopefully encourage more young people to get the shot, just after declaring that the D.C. mask mandate will be reimplemented on July 31 due to rising COVID-19 transmission.

The Mayor shared that $51 gift cards will be handed out to anyone over the age of 12 who gets their shot at the walk-up vaccination sites located at Anacostia High School in Ward 8, Ida B Wells Middle School in Ward 4 and Dorothy Height/Benning Library in Ward 7. Everyone hoping to get a gift card will have to visit one of the sites, provide proof of residency and receive their vaccination. 

“Vaccine Buddies” are also eligible to get a gift card - which includes those who are helping unvaccinated friends, family or neighbors get the shot. Times for the walk-up sites can be found below.

Anacostia High School

  • Tuesday - Thursday
    • 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
  • Saturday
    • 12 p.m. - 5 p.m.

Ida B. Wells Middle School

  • Wednesday - Saturday
    • 9 a.m. - 1 p.m.
    • 2 p.m. - 7 p.m.

Dorothy Height/Benning Library

  • Tuesday and Wednesday
    • 10 a.m. - 6 p.m.
  • Thursday
    • 12 p.m. - 6 p.m.
  • Saturday 
    • 12 p.m. - 5 p.m.

Also, as a part of a larger-scale effort called The Youth COVID-19 Incentive Program, young people in the District between the ages of 12 and 17 who have yet to receive the vaccine will be eligible to get a $51 gift card. Youth within the first 400 to show up for a shot will have the choice to receive a pair of AirPods instead of the gift card. The choices will be presented at one of three vaccination sites.

The three future vaccination sites included will be located at Brookland Middle School, Sousa Middle School and Johnson Middle School. The DCPS sites will only open to that age group for walk-in appointments. Parents or guardians who come alongside the young people will also receive a $51 gift card at the site. 

In addition, all District youth - not just the newly vaccinated - will now be eligible to win an iPad or a college scholarship of $25,000. A drawing of all vaccinated youth between 12 and 17 will be entered and eight names will be selected each week to win an iPad, while two names will be chosen weekly for a $25,000 scholarship to any college of their choosing. The drawing will begin on August 30.

Once chosen, D.C. government will contact the child’s family and the prize will only be awarded if they are vaccinated. 

Mayor Bowser also shared that 135 D.C. public schools that serve students between the ages of 12 and 17 will be receiving microgrants to fund their own events and prizes for students who are getting the jab. 

All of the incentives in the program will begin on Saturday, August 7. The new walk-up sites at DCPS schools will finish on September 30, along with the name-drawing for iPads or a college scholarship.

Director of the D.C. Department of Health Dr. LaQuandra Nesbitt said at Thursday's press conference that daily cases have increased fivefold over the month of July and that the increase appears to be most attributable to young people. Positive cases are being linked to travel, dining out and social activities, she specified, which have started to skew larger according to contact tracing results.  

According to CDC data, 51.7% of all eligible Washingtonians are fully vaccinated, however, vaccine coverage is higher in wards 3, 4 and 6 and at its lowest in wards 7 and 8. The disparities are present largely with young people between ages 12 to 15 in the District. Dr. Nesbitt said during the conference that while 15% of black youth in that category have been vaccinated with at least a dose, 51% of white youth have gotten the shot. 

Infections are also mirroring the differences in vaccination. She added that we continue to see disparities insofar as who is getting infected in the District. Black youth are currently three times more likely to get COVID-19 compared to their white counterparts, according to Dr. Nesbitt. 

RELATED: DC mandates masks indoors, regardless of vaccination status

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