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New York Mayor Bill de Blasio tempts New Yorkers with free fries: "Mmm, vaccinations"

NYC mayor touts free Shake Shack for shots
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio promotes a new incentive to get vaccinated: Shake Shack 05:00

Want some fries with that shot? New York Mayor Bill de Blasio downed some Shake Shack fries during a virtual press conference Thursday, touting a new partnership to encourage New Yorkers to get vaccinated.

"Free fries when you get vaccinated? I got vaccinated. You're saying I could get these delicious fries? Wait a minute, that there's also a burger element to this?" he said, snacking on fries and waving a half-wrapped burger during his daily COVID-19 update.

"I want you to look at this and think about — again, some people love hamburgers, some don't, and we want to respect all ways of life — but if this is appealing to you, just think of this when you think of vaccinations," he said. "Mmm, vaccinations. Mmm. I'm getting a very good feeling about vaccinations right at this moment."

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio holds up a side of Shake Shack fries at City Hall on May 13, 2021.
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio holds up a side of Shake Shack fries at City Hall on May 13, 2021. Ed Reed/Mayoral Photography Office

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 12-15 Wednesday, formally increasing the number of Americans eligible for the shot. Facilities in New York City have given more than 7 million shots, according to city data. Nearly 3.1 million of the city's residents — more than 37% of its population and 46% of those 18 and older — are fully vaccinated as of Thursday.

"A lot of people are ready to get vaccinated; they just haven't gotten around to it yet, they need a little extra incentive, and we're doing that now," de Blasio said.

The nationwide vaccination pace had slowed ahead of the CDC's announcement with an average 650,964 people receiving their first dose each day over the last week, according to CDC data, dipping below the record low of 683,000 on February 21 amid a spate of winter storms.

President Biden said earlier this month his goal is to have 160 million American adults fully vaccinated and 70% at least partially vaccinated by July Fourth. The CDC released updated guidelines Thursday on what fully vaccinated people can do, including not wearing a mask in many indoor situations.

The partnership between New York City and Shake Shack will give people who are vaccinated at one of the city's mobile clinics a voucher for a free burger or sandwich or allow those who show proof of vaccination at one of the chain's New York City locations to get free fries when they buy a burger or sandwich through June 12.

"We need everybody to get vaccinated. We know we need to make it easy, we need to make it convenient ... we're doing all that, but we also know that incentives help," de Blasio said.

The freebie touted in de Blasio's viral moment isn't the only one aimed at increasing inoculations. Unvaccinated New Yorkers headed to a Yankees or Mets game who get a Johnson & Johnson shot at the game will get free tickets. States, cities and businesses around the country are offering rewards ranging from beer and doughnuts to museum tickets and even possibly a $100 savings bond — and in Ohio, five lucky vaccinated residents will win $1 million in special weekly drawings.

Alex Tin contributed to this report.

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