A Schenectady County student will be able to attend any public college in the state for free after her name was drawn as part of a state-sponsored raffle aimed at bolstering child-vaccination rates.
The student, Naomi F., was among the 10 names pulled during a second-round drawing of the “Vaccinate, Educate, Graduate” vaccine incentive program on Dec. 1. The state did not release any other identifying information, citing privacy reasons.
Gov. Kathy Hochul launched the program last month in a bid to increase vaccine rates in children ages 5 to 11 not long after the shots received emergency-use authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Earlier this year, the state offered a similar incentive for youths ages 12 to 18.
“Through the ‘Vaccinate, Educate, Graduate’ program, 10 more young New Yorkers will be able to receive life-changing education opportunities at any SUNY or CUNY college or university,” Hochul said in a statement. “As we enter the holiday season and the risk of transmission increases, it is absolutely critical that we stay vigilant. The vaccine is the surest way to keep you and your loved ones safe — it’s free, easily accessible, and most importantly safe for 5- to 11-year-olds.”
Children between the ages of 5 and 11 who receive at least one dose of the vaccine before Dec. 19 can be entered into the raffle. The winners will receive full tuition to any SUNY or CUNY school, which includes room and board and allowances to purchase books and other supplies.
A total of 50 winners will be selected over five rounds. First-round winners were announce last month. For more information on the program, visit: https://on.ny.gov/3pq336o.
The drawing comes as health officials continue to urge all those eligible for the vaccines and the booster shot to get inoculated as soon as possible.
Coronavirus cases have been climbing steadily in recent weeks and an increase in hospitalizations, mostly driven by the unvaccinated, have pushed some local hospitals to capacity.
A total of 3,249 individuals were hospitalized with the virus across the state on Sunday, the most recent day statewide data is available.
In a bid to free up capacity, Hochul issued an executive order last month authorizing the state’s Department of Health to limit elective surgeries if staffed bed capacity dips to 10%. The order, which technically went into effect last week, is expected to impact dozens of upstate hospitals, including Glens Falls Hospital, which recently issued announced it was overwhelmed with COVID patients.
Meanwhile, Schenectady County Public Health Services continues to host a series of vaccination PODs in an effort to get residents protected. The vaccines are also widely available at local pharmacies.
For more information on vaccination PODs, visit: schenectadycounty.com/COVID19/vaccine.
Contact reporter Chad Arnold at: 518-410-5117 or [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter: @ChadGArnold.