PHILADELPHIA -- The White House on Thursday announced a number of new incentives from the private sector as it looks to increase Covid-19 vaccination rates among young people, a group it has specifically targeted as a high-priority demographic.
From free Panera bagels and Chipotle burritos to delivery service gift cards for college students, the incentives come days after the White House acknowledged the US would fall short of President Joe Biden's July Fourth Covid-19 vaccination goals, saying the country has more work to do to get younger Americans vaccinated.
Many of the incentives were announced by second gentleman Doug Emhoff, who spoke with Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy on a press call Thursday about the importance of vaccinating young people.
"Less than half of people age 18-24 have one shot. That's 42%," Emhoff said.
"The reality is many younger Americans have felt like Covid is not something that impacts them and they have been resistant to getting the shot," he added.
As of this week, between July 2 and July 4, Panera will give free bagels to those who are vaccinated. Vaccinated customers who buy burritos will get one free at Chipotle on July 6. GoPuff, the Philadelphia-based delivery service popular on college campuses, said it will give $100,000 worth of GoPuff credits to certain community colleges and universities across the country.
Shine, a mental health app, will offer a free 15-minute "Relax While You Get Vaxxed" meditation to enjoy during a vaccine appointment. The meditation will be live on the app starting next week, the company said in a tweet.
Emhoff added that gaming services Twitch and Riot will run ads on their platforms and work with influencers to reach young Americans with public health information.
"These platforms touch millions of young Americans every day, and we know that hearing about vaccinations from someone you follow or someone you trust or the mental health app that you use may be just as important as it is hearing it from us at the White House," Emhoff said.
In addition to the efforts noted by Emhoff, Walgreens is offering $25 in Walgreens cash rewards to individuals vaccinated at store pharmacies.
Instacart, the grocery service, is raffling off $500 gift cards to those who are vaccinated by June 30.
Vaccine coverage among young adults has been lower and is increasing more slowly over time than in other age groups in the United States, and the intent to be vaccinated is lower among younger adults, according to studies published Monday by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
If the weekly pace of vaccinations continues at the same rate from the week of May 22, only 57.5% of adults under age 30 will have received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine by the end of August.
Earlier this week, White House Covid-19 response coordinator Jeff Zients said the administration is now focused on getting younger Americans, particularly 18- to 26-year-olds, vaccinated against the virus. He said the White House would be working with state and local leaders on outreach efforts.
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