Meal incentives to be offered to incarcerated New Yorkers to get vaccinated

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — The vaccination rate among incarcerated New Yorkers is about fifty percent. And, in order to boost that number, the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision is expected to offer meal incentives.

According to a memo, McDonald’s and pizza could be used as meal incentives for those serving time behind bars to get vaccinated by December 8. And, facilities “that increase their vaccine acceptance percentage by 10%” between yesterday and December 8th, will receive a “Christmas roast beef holiday meal.”

DOCCS says as of Monday 15,851 or 49.9 percent of incarcerated individuals have received the vaccine. In a statement DOCCS says “the Department engaged with the incarcerated liaison committees…” and that “the feedback received showed that offering food items from local vendors, not accessible in the facility, but which the ILC’s periodically purchase, would provide for a desirable incentive.”

But, not everyone supports the incentives. President of the New York State Correctional Officers and Police Benevolent Association, Michael Powers said, “It seems like when it comes to the inmates getting vaccinated, it’s all carrot, and when it comes to the staff getting vaccinated, it’s all about the stick. And, we’re feeling slighted.” 

Some NYSCOPBA members, who are state hospital security officers, have filed a lawsuit against the state’s health care worker vaccine mandate, saying it goes against their constitutional rights. DOCCS had no comment on pending litigation, but said, “Like all eligible residents of New York, there have been a number of incentives offered by the state to get vaccinated, including the chance to win tickets to the Bills, Giants and Jets games.”

The Department also says “correctional facilities have held employee appreciation luncheons for those getting vaccinated.”

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