Companies offering cash to encourage workers to get COVID-19 vaccine as Chicago timeline revealed

Chicago News

CHICAGO — Some companies are offering extra incentives to encourage workers to get vaccinated against COVID-19 as soon as they can. 

From Trader Joe’s to Aldi, many retailers are giving workers a few extra hours of pay to get vaccinated when it’s their turn. Instacart is offering a $25 stipend.

Skokie-based BRIA Health Services, a long-term residential care and rehab provider, is offering a bonus of $150 for staff who get the vaccine. 

“This is the most critical weapon in our fight against COVID-19,” BRIA spokesperson Natalie Bauer Luce said. 

BRIA’s long-term care facilities have been hard hit by Covid-related deaths and questions over how the company handled outbreaks. 

Luce said they also have a task force of infectious disease experts answering questions from employees who may be hesitant to get vaccinated. 

“So we’re pulling out all the stops doing everything we can just to help people make an informed decision and hope that they do get the shot,” Luce said.

Village Tap in Roscoe Village is giving out 1,000 $10 gift cards for customers who have gotten the COVID-19 vaccine. 

“We wanted to say thanks to the people who are choosing to get vaccinated,” Village Tap Owner Jeff Hoffman said. “There is a lot of anger and frustration in the hospitality industry but there’s also positive ways to take that step closer to getting back to normal.”

But Dr. Monica Peek with the University of Chicago says if financial incentives are too high they can actually  backfire. 

“In general people don’t get paid for vaccines… we want to send the message this is a safe vaccine that is part of routine care,” Peek said.

Additionally, she says there are already concerning disparities emerging among the healthcare workers who are choosing to get vaccinated. 

In Black and Latino communities, she says distrust in the vaccine is rooted in racism past and present. 

“While we are racing against the clock … we also have to do the hard work walking slowly through people’s painful journey,” Peek said.

On Tuesday, the City of Chicago introduced their tentative vaccination schedule.

The next phase of the vaccine rollout 1B starts Monday for those 65 and older and frontline essential workers. Phase 1C could begin at the end of March for residents 16 and up with underlying medical conditions and more essential workers.

Vaccinations for the general public could tentatively start on May 31.

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