ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Get your vaccine, and get a beer from a local brewery: That’s the new vaccine incentive initiative in Rochester.
Monroe County Executive Adam Bello and Public Health Commissioner Dr. Michael Mendoza held their first in-person coronavirus briefing in months at Rohrbach’s Brewing Company on Railroad Street Thursday.
“I can’t tell you how happy I am to see you all in person for the first time, I think, since we’ve been doing these briefings,” Bello said.
The county executive announced the new campaign “Choose Your Brew,” which will collaborate with local breweries throughout Rochester.
“Today we’re announcing the ‘Choose Your Brew’ initiative,” Bello said. “Monroe County is going to be hosting a series of pop-up COVID vaccine clinics at participating breweries throughout the month of June. Anyone who gets their vaccine at one of these brewery pop-ups will get a free drink, or a voucher for a free drink.”
The county executive says this campaign will not only encourage folks to get vaccinated, but also to help them get back out, and support local businesses.
“This isn’t just a great way to go out and receive your vaccine, it’s also a great way to get back out and see what our fantastic local breweries have to offer,” Bello said. “Our small businesses have suffered so much during the pandemic and this is a way to get reacquainted with our local breweries and get the life-saving vaccine.”
The pop-up clinics will take place as follows:
- Genesee Brew House — June 8: 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.
- Rohrbach’s on Buffalo Road — June 10: 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.
- Irondequoit Beer Company — June 15: 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.
- Lock 32 Brewing Company — June 19: 12 p.m. to 4 p.m.
- Three Heads Brewing — June 21: 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.
The county executive said an additional partnership with Dunkin’ will offer $5 gift cards to those who get vaccinated.
“We all know, the more people get vaccinated, the closer we’re going to get to that sense of normalcy,” Bello said. “We are working in partnership with Dunkin’ and in the month of June, if you attend any one of these pop-up clinics, or if you go to any of the other county-run facilities in June, the first 2,000 people to come will receive a free $5 gift card so you can truly choose your brew.”
The state has offered some incentives for vaccination, including baseball tickets, two-day passes to state parks, and a lottery entry for $5 million. Wednesday, the governor announced a new incentive for a chance for a younger New Yorker to win a full scholarship to a public college or university.
As vaccination increases, the COVID-19 positivity rate decreases and Monroe County has seen an encouraging trend in the recent metrics.
“Our numbers are really headed in the right direction and I want to thank the community for all their hard work and support for getting us to where we are today,” Bello said. “For the fourth day in a row, our new positive cases are below 100. That is a significant milestone for us and I feel very good about the direction we’re heading in.”
“We are once again entering a new phase,” Dr. Mendoza said. “We are adapting to new guidance and changing our behavior to reflect the fact that we are finally beating this virus. Though there may be occasional upticks from now on, we are definitely seeing this turning in the right direction.”
With guidance routinely changing, the health commissioner said it’s important to stay informed.
“Through all of this cause for celebration, it is also a confusing time for many,” Dr. Mendoza said. “First, get vaccinated as soon as you are eligible. If you are not eligible, it’s very important that you still wear masks in public spaces to protect yourself and others. The virus and its variants are still here and people are still getting sick.
“We also know that it is important sometimes to vaccinated parents to be role models for wearing a mask with unmasked children,” Dr. Mendoza said. “Most importantly, let’s not judge one another. Let’s continue to work together, as we have done all along this pandemic.”
Dr. Nana Bennett of the Finger Lakes Vaccine Task Force says the region has made tremendous progress compared to just a few months ago.
“At this point in the region, we’ve given first doses to almost 60% of those over the age of 12,” Dr. Bennett said. “We’ve given full, or both doses, to almost 50% of those over the age of 12. So we’ve made huge progress since December and its slower now, but it’s happening and the creativity of our region and will carry us over the finish line.”
The county executive said the upcoming Memorial Day weekend is a reminder of the progress made against the pandemic.
“We look a lot different this year than we did a year ago,” Bello said. “I remember Memorial Day last year and we weren’t able to come together and celebrate together and mourn together. I think over the last year we have sacrificed a lot. On this Memorial Day I’m going to gather with communities across Monroe County. I’ll be in a parade this weekend, I’ll be at a celebration this weekend to pay my respects, and I’d encourage others to do the same. And I’m looking forward to the 4th of July just like everyone else is.”
While the situation has undoubtedly improved, the health commissioner said the pandemic isn’t quite over yet.
“I don’t think we’re at the finish line,” Dr. Mendoza said. “From my standpoint, we’re not until we’re at the finish line.”
When it comes to the finish line, and the long-awaited goal of herd immunity, experts say we’re going to need more vaccination.
“Our official goal is 70% of the entire population, so we have a ways to go,” Dr. Bennett said.
According to the Finger Lakes Vaccine Hub, less than 50% of the region is fully vaccinated.
Watch the full press briefing
This is a developing story. News 8 WROC will provide updates as they become available.