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Philadelphia Leaders Considering Financial Incentives To Boost City's COVID-19 Vaccination Rates

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- Vaccination rates across Pennsylvania are among the best in the country and could soon lead to indoor mask mandates being totally eliminated. But Philadelphia is far behind on vaccinations and some leaders are saying it's time to offer financial incentives.

Cashing in on shots is a popular new trend, paying people to get vaccinated. While it might be necessary in the city, statewide, people don't need much coaxing.

"We're at a point of transition," Pennsylvania's Acting Health Secretary Alison Beam said.

Beam announced the state's mask mandate for unvaccinated people will be lifted June 28, or sooner, when 70% of the state is fully vaccinated. Currently, almost 53% of residents are protected against COVID-19 -- 70% have received at least one shot.

"Pennsylvania is one of the largest states to achieve this milestone," Beam said.

Pennsylvania will continue to follow CDC guidance on masking. They're only necessary in crowded indoor settings.

Philadelphia's COVID-19 restrictions have been more aggressive than the state because infection rates are higher in the city and not enough people are getting vaccinated.

"The City of Philadelphia, unfortunately, is only at 46%," City Council President Darrell Clarke said.

Clarke introduced two bills that would offer financial incentives to encourage more people to get vaccinated.

"We believe that based on past history of offering incentives for various things that it will make a difference," Clarke said.

Clarke's proposals would provide a $50 credit toward paying a gas or water bill for people who get vaccinated or give them a $50 gift certificate. They would be capped at 100,000 at a cost of $5 million.

"Should taxpayers have to foot the bill for people who aren't doing the right thing by choosing not to be vaccinated?" Clarke said. "If the virus comes back in a very aggressive way, which is a strong possibility, we're going to foot the bill one way or another."

Clarke is especially concerned about people in the minority community not getting vaccinated. He hopes City Council and the mayor pass the bills quickly to improve vaccination rates in the city.

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