Incentives help DC students get coronavirus vaccines before heading back to school

Daniel Torres, 13, was at the Woody Ward Recreation Center in Southeast D.C. to get his COVID-19 vaccine. He was excited that it came with AirPods. (WTOP/Valerie Bonk)

Samuel Akole and his sister Kemi were waiting for their 12-year-old sister to get her vaccine. (WTOP/Valerie Bonk)

The coronavirus vaccine clinic was held at the Woody Ward Recreation Center in Ward 7. (WTOP/Valerie Bonk)

The vaccine clinic was held at the same time as a back to school block party for Ward 7. (WTOP/Valerie Bonk)


Both parents and students are getting a little something extra at a coronavirus vaccine clinic in D.C. on Saturday.

Many said the shot is just a part of getting ready for school this year.

“They’re excited to go back to school and I just want them to be safe,” said Linda Torres, the mother of a D.C. school student.

She took her 13-year-old son Daniel to the Woody Ward Recreation Center in Southeast D.C. to get his first shot.

“He was a little hesitant not to come,” Torres said, but the perks helped. He was especially thrilled “to get AirPods too.”

The program through DC Health gives each parent or guardian a $51 gift card per child that gets their first shot here.

And, the kids get their choice of AirPods or a gift card.

“We know that when we are vaccinated we are protecting ourselves, we are protecting one another and our communities,” said Charon P. W. Hines, senior advisor to the Chancellor of D-C public schools.

Samuel Akole, 14, is already fully vaccinated against the coronavirus, but he was at the Woody Ward Recreation Center in Southeast D.C. to support his 12-year-old sister getting the shot.

He says it’s important before going back to school “so you feel safe and makes it so that COVID doesn’t have a large effect on you when you get it.”

Samuel’s 10-year-old sister, Kemi, says she wants to get it as soon as it’s available for her age, “so I can be safe and I won’t get sick.”

The vaccine clinic was happening at the same time as a back-to-school block party for students and families in Ward 7.

It featured free food, music, games, giveaways, and a STAY DC Pop Up to help families sign up for financial support to cover housing and utility expenses and offset the loss of income.

Valerie Bonk

Valerie Bonk started working at WTOP in 2016 and has lived in Howard County, Maryland, her entire life. She's thrilled to be a reporter for WTOP telling stories on air. She works as both a television and radio reporter in the Maryland and D.C. areas. 

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