Utica College offers incentive to students who receive COVID-19 booster


Matthew Breault

Students at Utica College will be receiving a $50 Amazon gift card if they can prove they’ve received their COVID-19 booster shot.

Matthew Breault, Editor-in-Chief

Utica College is offering an incentive to students who receive their COVID-19 booster shot, according to a campus wide email sent out on Nov. 22. 

Due to the rise in COVID-19 cases and the emergence of the new Omicron variant, President Laura Casamento announced that the college will reward students with a gift card incentive if they choose to receive their COVID-19 booster in efforts to have more students receive their booster.

“As a special added incentive, the College is offering a $50 Amazon gift card to every UC student who receives the booster,” Casamento said in the  email. “Just provide your updated vaccination record to the Student Health Center ([email protected]) to receive your gift card. I strongly encourage you to get your COVID booster at your earliest opportunity.”

As of Monday, Dec. 6, there were approximately 148 students who provided proof of receiving their booster shot, according to Utica College Vice President of Emergency Management Shad Crowe. Crowe also said the number of students who received their booster is expected to increase over the next few months, due to some still being ineligible after receiving their second dose (or first of Johnson & Johnson) in July or August.

As Utica College begins to have more students submitting their updated vaccination records to the Student Health Center, the Utica College Office of Student Affairs has created an official list of students, so when the incentive becomes available, they’ll be able to contact each student.

According to Interim Dean of Students Karen Ferrer-Muniz, the college will be able to provide the incentive in the near future.

“We will start sending emails to students who are in the list to pick their gift card once we receive the gift cards,” Ferrer-Muniz said. “This will continue into January/February and we will evaluate the incentive timeline after that period based on the turn out and the number of students.”

Dawn DeGironimo, the registered nurse at Utica College, said the best thing people can do to prevent and stop the spread of COVID-19 is to get vaccinated, while adding that Utica College’s decision to provide an incentive to students is “a great idea.”

“Utica College is not the first one to come up with an incentive, as there are other people doing incentives as well such as Oneida County,” DeGironimo said. “With that being said, Utica College is just following suit with what the community that’s surrounding us is doing. I really do believe the boosters are very important and that this incentive is a great idea.”

Bailey McElwain, a junior wellness and adventure education major and softball player at Utica College, said that the college offering an incentive for the booster should help encourage more students to get it.

“I think that it’s a good idea because some students need more motivation to get the booster shot,” McElwain said. “I personally would have gotten it no matter what, but I know some people who don’t have the best views on the COVID-19 vaccine. I think this incentive will help push some people in the direction of getting it.”

If you are a student who is interested in receiving their COVID-19 vaccine or booster, the Mohawk Valley Health System (MVHS) has opened its COVID-19 POD, which is located at the MVHS Burrstone House at 1710 Burrstone Road in New Hartford. 

To register, students can visit this link, or head to the New York State Department of Health website.