Got the Vaccine? Philly Council Wants to Give Out Utility Bill Rebates as Incentives

Philadelphia City Council is proposing giving out $50 rebates that could be used toward gas and water bills as a way to get more people to get the COVID-19 vaccine

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With less than half of Philadelphia's population having at least one dose of a COVID vaccine, Philadelphia City Council wants to give residents a bit of an incentive for getting vaccinated against the coronavirus.

The perks come in the form of $50 vouchers that could be used toward gas and water bills or $50 gift certificates for other yet-to-be determined purposes.

On Thursday at the request of Council President Darrell Clarke, Councilmember Cindy Bass, D-8th District, introduced two bills that are aimed at giving a boost to the city's slowing vaccine program.

"Vaccination incentives can encourage people who have been procrastinating," Bass said.

This is how a news release from City Council describes the perks:

"Both bills require the Department of Public Health to set up a COVID-19 Vaccination Rebate Voucher Program to administer the incentive rebates," council said in its news release. "In each case, the program would include a form by which residents would verify their city residency and COVID-19 vaccination."

The plan calls for capping the incentives at 100,000 gifts, meaning the program could cost up to $5 million. Each person would only be able to get one reward.

Click here to get your COVID vaccine in Philadelphia.

As of Monday, just over just under 47% of the city's population 10 and older -- or around 880,057 people (670,344 people are fully vaccinated) -- had received at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose, the city said. Council noted President Joe Biden's goal of getting at least one dose of the vaccine to 70% of the population by July 4.

"We need to act creatively and aggressively to get more Philadelphians vaccinated," Clarke, a Democrat, said. "The simple reality is that a little less than 50 percent of Philadelphians have gotten at least one vaccine shot. That’s not enough, if we want to get our residents back to work and our schools re-opened safely, and fully open up restaurants and other workplaces where people can feel safe around each other again."

Council noted the disparity in Black and Hispanic populations lagging behind in getting vaccinated.

City Council is working with Mayor Jim Kenney's administration on getting the program going.

The rebate proposal comes as states and municipalities offer money, free booze, big lottery jackpots, low-numbered license plates and even (in New Jersey's case) dinner with the governor.

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