Get a vaccine, receive a free drink.
As part of the county’s effort to boost vaccination numbers, any resident age 21 or older who receives the COVID-19 vaccine at a county-run site in May will receive a ticket that can be redeemed at several North Fork breweries, wineries and distilleries for a free drink.
Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone announced the “Lift Your Spirit, Take Your Shot” initiative at Raphael Winery in Peconic Wednesday morning alongside representatives of several of the participating businesses.
Mr. Bellone pitched the initiative as a potential “win-win” to not only increase vaccinations, but also provide a boost for businesses this month.
“The hope is that this campaign will continue to drum up new customers, new business and bring them out to this amazing place,” Mr. Bellone said. “Residents can show up for that free drink but the goal is to spend additional dollars on food and snacks and other beverages as well. Because this is also about making sure our small businesses come back.”
The press conference was at held at Raphael, where a pop-up vaccination clinic in late April was held as part of an effort to reach farm workers throughout the region. About 500 doses of the Moderna vaccine were distributed.
“That’s absolutely incredible,” Mr. Bellone said.
Raphael is one of the participating North Fork businesses for the free drink along with Greenport Harbor Brewing Co., Peconic County Brewery, Twin Fork Beer Company and Long Island Spirits. Other businesses are Montauk Brewing Company, Spider Bite Beer Co. in Holbrook and Del Vino Vineyards in Northport. Additional businesses could be added as well.
Mr. Bellone said the program could potentially be extended beyond May, acknowledging the county will not hit its vaccine target by the end of the month. Just over 48% of the county’s population has now received at least one dose.
“We are doing this for Long Island because this is really important after the year that we’ve been through,” Mr. Bellone said. “Nothing is more important than making sure we get everyone vaccinated so we do put this pandemic behind us.”
Julie Petrocelli Vergari, the special events coordinator at Raphael, said it was a “really proud moment for the region” to be involved in the farmer worker vaccination program.
The business representatives all spoke about their excitement for the summer season ahead.
“We’re all in this together,” said Richard Stabile, founder of Long Island Spirits. “We’re thrilled to get through COVID and put this all behind us.”
Southold Town Councilwoman Sarah Nappa spoke on behalf of the town.
“I really appreciate the group standing behind me that has offered up their establishment to help with this initiative,” she said.
For residents who want more than a drink, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Wednesday a separate initiative in partnership with the New York Mets, New York Yankees and state Department of Health. Fans can receive a COVID-19 vaccine at the stadium and in return receive a free ticket to a future game.