WOODBURY, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Can herd immunity ever be reached in the Tri-State Area? According to Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone, not without more young teens getting their shot.
On Monday, he rolled out new incentives to vaccinate kids headed to summer camp, CBS2’s Carolyn Gusoff reported.READ MORE: Understaffing At Nursing Homes Leaves Residents Vulnerable Amid Pandemic, Now Vaccine Mandate Could Make It Worse
Amusement park and ballpark passes are among the giveaways offered up via lottery to kids 12 and up. Suffolk County is sweetening the deal, also giving away ice cream cones, in a new push to get kids and counselors vaccinated ahead of the camp season, which is just three weeks away.
“We want 2021 to look a lot more like 2019 than 2020,” said Mark Transport, president of Long Island Camps and Private Schools Association. “By having those staff members vaxed and kids that are 12 and up, then there is much less of a likelihood that we would have a situation.”
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Transport represents dozens of camps he says are looking to offer kids normalcy, by strongly encouraging or mandating staff get vaccinated and hoping campers will, too. Already, 70% of Suffolk County residents have received one shot, but Bellone says children 12 and up are critical in reaching herd immunity.
“That is our shared goal, to eliminate hesitancy, obstacles, and barriers to getting vaccinated. Put a pandemic, an unprecedented pandemic, behind us once and for all,” Bellone said.
But hesitancy persists.
“It’s still a new vaccine, so they don’t know the long-term side effects,” one person said.READ MORE: NYC Teacher, Principal Unions Warn Of School Staffing Shortages When Vaccine Mandate Takes Effect; De Blasio Says Substitutes Standing By
“We maybe don’t want them to get the first shots,” another said.
“If we don’t get vaccinated, this is not going to get over,” another added.
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To date, only a quarter of New York’s 12-15-year-olds have gotten one shot.
“They may be the safest from the virus, but they certainly transmit the virus to many other people,” Bellone said.
Adventureland owner Steve Gentile said getting kids vaccinated benefits everyone.
“So we can get back to normal. We are crying. People are crying to get back to normal,” Gentile said.
Next, Suffolk County will be offering on-site vaccine pods to any camp interested. In fact, county executives across the state are considering the same.MORE NEWS: CDC Recommending Pfizer Booster Shots For Seniors, Adults With Underlying Medical Conditions, Adults At Greater Risk Of Exposure At Work
“Camp Vax,” as the program is called, is available at locations throughout Suffolk, with more counties expected to offer the incentives soon.