Wellness & Wellbeing

How Companies Are Handling COVID-19 Vaccine Incentives for Employees

COVID-19 Vaccine Incentives

Incentivizing employee health and vaccines is nothing new. Many organizations, especially hospitals and workplaces where close contact is a necessity, incentivize things like flu shots because it makes good sense. Others boost the incentive considerably by providing flu shots on site. COVID-19 vaccine incentives for employees are following a similar path as more and more companies opt to offer recognition of some kind for getting vaccinated.

Health officials around the world tend to agree that the new vaccines should be distributed to as many people as possible to curb the spread as rapidly as possible. The new administration set a goal of distributing 100 million doses to Americans within its first 100 days. Billions have been diverted to vaccine rollout efforts, and over 50 million Americans have been fully vaccinated as of this writing.

How Can Employers Help?

Many employers, with direct access to large populations, are realizing they may have a vital role to play in curbing the virus. ABC News Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Jennifer Ashton predicted back in January that employers would “absolutely” be involved in vaccine distribution, and that an “explosion of implementations” would be seen soon.

CNN reports that over 70% of current or recent CEOs have said they were “open to requiring” vaccines, but much remains to be seen. That remains to be seen. There are legal limits to how much a company can mandate their employees to be vaccinated, but incentives are generally viewed as a safe way to promote them when done carefully.

How Frontline Companies are Handling COVID-19 Vaccine Incentives

In 2021, many organizations and some politicians are pushing for vaccine incentives to promote vaccinations where it’s needed the most, mainly in employee populations that perform essential services or must have regular contact with the public. As the rollout presses on, certain companies are having to face the vaccination incentive dilemma before anyone else.

In turn companies like Trader Joe’s, Instacart, and Dollar General began offering modest incentives in 2021 for employees who get the vaccine and show proof. Instacart offers a simple $25 stipend while Trader Joe’s swaps two hours of pay for each dose taken. Dollar General reimburses expenses to get the vaccine, including mileage and childcare. Other companies like Chobani have begun offering extra paid time off for employees to get vaccinated.

As vaccine distribution becomes more widespread, these types of incentives have already increased in occurrence and sprung up in more industries, and there’s no reason to expect the trend to subside in the near future.

New Territory

This is new territory for companies to navigate with vaccinations now occurring at a sustainable pace and several considerations at play for both employees and employers. Any COVID-19 vaccination incentives will have to be doled out with a good deal of measure with special attention to how employees are responding along the way.

In the future, we may see COVID-19 vaccinations as commonly incentivized as annual flu vaccinations, but it’s too early to tell. Once we have vaccinated enough of the population and the initial risk has subsided, more will be known about the virus and how it will have to be managed.

The CDC already has a comprehensive guide on helping businesses promote vaccinations, along with an explanation of benefits and guidelines and tips for safe and complaint incentives. We recommend taking a look for anyone considering launching COVID-19 vaccine incentive for employees.

UPDATE: This blog was originally published on January 22, 2021. It has been updated to reflect ongoing progress in COVID-19 vaccinations.

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