Cambridge giving out $75 debit cards to people who get COVID vaccine, booster

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Cambridge will be handing out $75 debit cards at an upcoming COVID vaccine clinic in the hopes of boosting the city’s vax and booster rates during the holiday season.

Mirroring the financial incentives that Boston has offered at vaccination clinics, the city of Cambridge will now be giving out $75 debit cards to people who live or work in the city who get vaccinated for COVID at a clinic on Thursday.

The city-sponsored clinic at the CambridgeSide shopping mall will be offering the first COVID vax dose, second dose and booster shots.

“Getting vaccinated and receiving the most recent COVID-19 booster dose recommended for you by the CDC remains a critical step to help keep yourself, your family, and your community safe,” Cambridge Mayor Sumbul Siddiqui and City Manager Yi-An Huang said in a joint statement.

“We want to thank our vaccination team and CambridgeSide for working to make this clinic possible before the end of the year,” they added. “We hope providing a modest financial incentive will further increase Cambridge’s vaccination rates.”

The city is funding the $75 debit cards through American Rescue Plan Act funds.

The updated bivalent booster provides broader protection against COVID variants and helps prevent severe disease. Residents ages 5 and over who completed their primary COVID vaccine series or received the original booster at least 2 months ago should get the new booster to be well protected for the winter season, city officials said. Virus cases and hospitalizations have been rising in recent weeks across Massachusetts.

As of last week in Cambridge, 52% of city residents had received a first booster dose, and 25% had received a second booster. Many of these boosters have been the bivalent dose.

For older residents, the rates are considerably higher. Among individuals ages 65 to 74, 62% have had a second booster. Of people 75-plus, 70% have this level of protection.

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