NEW YORK - New York City children between the ages of 5 and 11 began receiving Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine on Thursday. It is the only vaccine authorized, so far, for that age group. And a financial bonus is available if a child gets the vaccine at either a city-run vaccine site or a public school.
"Good news — kids are eligible for the $100 vaccine incentive. So we really want kids to take advantage, families take advantage of that," Mayor Bill de Blasio said. "Everyone could use a little more money around the holidays. But, most importantly, we want our kids and our families to be safe."
The mayor said the city has sent emails and texts and made calls in recent weeks to inform New Yorkers of the availability of the vaccines.
"We have done a lot of outreach already. We're going to be doing a lot more in the next few weeks," de Blasio said. "This is one of the reasons the vaccine effort in New York City has been so strong, constant outreach. We're going to keep doing that with parents, with families so we can get all our youngest New Yorkers vaccinated."
Suzanne Zacharias got her two young sons vaccinated on Thursday.
"I think greater good is where it should be and everyone should be looking out for each other," she said.
In the meantime, the federal government issued new vaccine mandates that apply to private companies. People who work at businesses with 100 or more employees must get vaccinated by Jan. 4, 2022, or get tested weekly. Companies failing to comply could face penalties of nearly $14,000 per violation.
"Vaccine requirements work," White House Deputy Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said. "This is about putting the pandemic behind us."
The rules are even stricter for another 17 million people who work in nursing homes, hospitals and other facilities that receive money from Medicare and Medicaid. Those workers do not have a testing option — they must get vaccinated.
"While I would have much preferred that requirements not become necessary, too many people remain unvaccinated for us to get out of this pandemic for good," President Joe Biden said in a statement.
CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky testified before a Senate committee on Thursday.
"We've had 745,000 deaths from this disease and we're continuing to have about 75,000 cases every single day," Walensky said. "We know the most destructive thing in a workforce is to have a COVID outbreak."
With FOX 5 NY Staff.