Detroit to give $50 debit cards to ‘Good Neighbors’ to help boost lagging COVID-19 vaccination rate
Detroit, with its COVID-19 vaccination rate still declining, is picking up its “Good Neighbor” strategy even further.
Starting Monday, the city is offering $ 50 MasterCard debit gift cards to anyone driving a Detroit citizen to the TCF Center transit point for their vaccination appointment.
The Good Neighbor program started at the beginning of the city’s vaccination efforts: drive an older city dweller to his appointment and you can get yourself vaccinated even if you are a little younger than them and technically out of the question. It was rolled out to all Metro Detroit residents in February.
“After all, everyone was eligible for the vaccine, so no one had to be a good neighbor, you could get the shot yourself,” Duggan said. “And when that happened, in particular, we saw the older vaccines start to decline.”
Now these helpers are paid for it. You do not have to be a Detroit resident, but you must log on to the city vaccination and testing hotline (313) 203-0505 and be paid for the first and second appointments.
The money comes from an additional $ 3.4 million COVID vaccination grant for Michigan, according to John Roach, city spokesman.
There are no limits either. Someone who is “really entrepreneurial,” Duggan said, could get hundreds of dollars for bringing in dozens of residents – though only three per car. The driver will be given the debit card as soon as their passenger receives the shot.
“Now I don’t know of any other place in the country that does this,” said Duggan. “So we came up with a few rules. And we’ll try. We’re in uncharted territory here.”
The program aims to help senior residents, but is also aimed at anyone without a car who wants to get a car appointment. According to popular estimates, a quarter of city dwellers are lacking a car, so this is not a minor issue.
Detroit also offers Uber-style rides worth $ 2 to the TCF Center’s vaccination site. These aren’t for everyone, however, and cost the city $ 35 to $ 50 per trip depending on the time. So that’s the $ 50 gift card.
Walk-up sites are also available. Residents and those who work in the city can check DetroitMI.gov or call (313) 203-0505.
The new incentive comes as Detroit continues to be the least vaccinated place in Michigan. Of urban residents, 29.9 percent have at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, while that rate is 48.8 percent nationwide. Duggan said he wanted to make Detroit the easiest place to get a vaccine, but he doesn’t want to pay people directly to get vaccinated, claiming it is a choice.
“I just think it’s wrong. You’re paying people to save their own lives. It looks like you’re being pressured. I don’t want to do this,” he said.
However, Duggan said on April 14 that companies he did not name have offered to create incentives such as freebies for Detroiters who will be vaccinated. The mayor said at the time that the city is looking at what other cities are doing, but the plans are still ongoing. This debit card program appears to be the first widespread financial incentive in town.
Detroit has also partnered with the Detroit Pistons and scheduled a family vaccination event on May 1 at the basketball team’s Henry Ford Detroit Pistons Performance Center in the New Center neighborhood. There will be free food and other freebies, according to a press release, although further details were not given.
Pistons spokesman Kevin Grigg declined to comment on the cost of the event or the nature of the freebies, saying the team offered space and volunteer hours.