NYS scholarship drawing incentivizes vaccination for children

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Governor Kathy Hochul | Flickr

Maya Demchak-Gottlieb, Copy Editor

New York State’s Vaccinate, Educate, Graduate program aims to incentivize vaccination among young New Yorkers with 10 scholarship winners announced per week from Nov. 24 to Dec. 22.

The scholarship program is available for the guardians of any New Yorker who is five to 11 years of age and received at least their first dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. Those who enter have a chance to win one of 50 four-year, full-ride scholarships — including tuition, fees, room-and-board and expenses — to any two or four-year New York State public college or university.

Gov. Kathy Hochul unveiled the program, praising the opportunity and characterizing it as extraordinary.

“Finally, the COVID-19 vaccine is here for young New Yorkers age 5 through 11,” Hochul said. “Our critical work to make the vaccine accessible and available to all eligible children and their families is underway — and we will creatively support and celebrate those who get vaccinated.”

While there are limited scholarships available, many still believe the program will be successful in appealing to parents of young New Yorkers.

“It’s like a game,” Baruch College business management major Jamina Drabo told The Ticker. “You’re participating in the game, but you know that you have a chance of winning. What if it’s you? They put themselves in that ‘what if I win, then my child would get a chance.’”

The COVID-19 pandemic created financial difficulties for many New Yorkers, making the possibility of a scholarship a more enticing opportunity.

“Because of COVID they know a lot of parents can’t work and those kinds of things go through they’re mind, like, how am I going to pay for their schooling or provide,” Drabo said. “With everything going on all these factors just play into them wanting to take that chance for their kid.”

The relative recency of the approval as well as the young nature of the age group means many may still be skeptical.

“With the age group that they picked, young children as young as five, I really don’t think it’s going to be effective because there was a point in time where those age kids couldn’t even get vaccinated, and it wasn’t even necessary,” computer information studies major Chelsea Alexandre said. “Now that they’re doing it because they regulated it and now all kids need vaccines to go to school in person it’s kind of sketchy.”

Business management major Kayla Aguirre also expressed concerns about the age range the vaccination program targets.

“They don’t have a say in getting the shot, so I feel like that’s harmful because they don’t know what they’re getting themselves into,” Aguirre said. “They’re so young.”

The final date to receive the first vaccine dose and be eligible for the program is Dec. 19.