Charlotte city workers could get $250, or more, to get the COVID vaccine

As of Monday, roughly 2,800 city workers have not gotten their COVID shot yet
Pfizer is now the first COVID-19 vaccine to be FDA approved.
Pfizer is now the first COVID-19 vaccine to be FDA approved.(WDAM)
Published: Aug. 24, 2021 at 9:21 AM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (The Charlotte Observer) - Charlotte will not require its nearly 8,000 city government employees to get vaccinated against COVID-19 — for now. But those who do could get $250, or more, as an incentive.

According to our news partners at The Charlotte Observer, roughly 2,380 city workers have not gotten their COVID shot yet, city officials said Monday, though that number could be higher when more information is released later this week.

City Manager Marcus Jones said Charlotte will focus on offering vaccine incentives until Sept. 30, before rethinking the city’s “leniency” on immunizations and potentially imposing a requirement.

Charlotte wants to pursue two types of vaccine incentives, assistant city manager Brent Cagle told City Council members on Monday afternoon.

Individual employees who are already vaccinated — or become vaccinated — by Sept. 30 could get $250, Cagle said. Employees who are only partially immunized with either their first shot of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine by that date would still be eligible for the reward, Cagle said.

All vaccinated city employees could receive an additional $250 payment, if the workforce vaccination rate reaches 75% by Sept. 30.

But City Council member Braxton Winston said he’s concerned about that timeline. He emphasized that Charlotte is “waist deep in the throes of a tidal wave of COVID-19” and must mandate vaccinations sooner. And Council member Ed Driggs questioned if the incentive could truly make a difference for city workers, considering COVID vaccine have been widely available for months.

“A significant portion of our workforce has office space that extends into the living room of our constituents…” Winston said. “We should not be perpetuating a pandemic that we have a duty to put down. This is a matter of public safety.”

Charlotte Mayor Vi Lyles said the incentives should be viewed in “totality,” including whether the reward could motivate employees’ family members also to get vaccinated. The mayor said there’s a trade-off for Charlotte needing to cover healthcare costs for employees who contract severe cases of COVID and are unable to work.

Sheila Simpson, Charlotte’s human resources director, said 800 people on the city’s healthcare plan have been hospitalized for coronavirus complications. She estimated that has cost the city $2.8 million.

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