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Hochul offers public college scholarship drawing for vaccinated kids

Denise Young, WXXI

New York Governor Kathy Hochul is offering incentives for children aged 5 to 11 years old to get vaccinated, offering entry to a drawing for free college tuition to a public university  for those who get their shots in the next few weeks.

Children under 12 became eligible for vaccines this week, and many parents have rushed to sign up their children at county health clinics and in schools. Governor Hochul says 700,000 doses have been ordered for the state’s children, about half of the number of the total number who are eligible. She says she knows that some might be hesitant, however, and she’s offering some reasons for children to get their vaccines.

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Over the next five weeks, all kids who get the vaccine will be entered into a drawing for a college scholarship at the State or City University campus of their choice.

“We are going to be allowing people to get vaccinated and then to be part of a pool. We will be selecting 50 names of children who will be receiving a full ride to a SUNY or CUNY institution,” Hochul said.

The scholarship will pay for an associates or bachelors program, and include the full cost of in-state tuition at a SUNY or CUNY school, full room and board and allowances for books, supplies, and transportation. There will also be an allowance for room and board for both on campus and off campus students.

Hochul says she hopes that as the majority of school aged children receive their shots, then mask mandates can be lifted.

The governor spoke at a health care center in the Westchester County City of Mount Vernon. The predominately African-American community has a vaccine rate of 61%, lower than the statewide average of 75% of adults who have received their first dose.   

Karen DeWitt is Capitol Bureau chief for the New York Public News Network, composed of a dozen newsrooms across the state. She has covered state government and politics for the network since 1990.