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Coronavirus vaccine incentive: Instacart and Dollar General to pay workers to get vaccinated

Coronavirus vaccine incentive: Instacart and Dollar General to pay workers to get vaccinated

FINANCIAL NEWS

Coronavirus vaccine incentive: Instacart and Dollar General to pay workers to get vaccinated

Mike Snider

| USA TODAY
COVID vaccine: Can you still be contagious?Vaccinologist Dr. Greg Poland discusses what it’s like after your first dosage of COVID-19 vaccine.Staff Video, USA TODAYOnline grocery delivery company Instacart will begin paying its workers $25 to offset them taking time to get the COVID-19 vaccine.The company, which has about 500,000 workers that shop to fill and deliver orders, said it will begin giving the vaccine support stipend Feb. 1 to eligible workers as the vaccination programs roll out across the U.S. and Canada.“With COVID-19 cases continuing to rise across the country, we’re taking proactive steps to advocate that government agencies recognize Instacart shoppers as critical essential workers who deserve early access to vaccines,” said Instacart CEO and founder Apoorva Mehta in a statement.“Our goal with the introduction of our new Vaccine Support Stipend is to ensure that, when the time comes, Instacart shoppers don’t have to choose between earning income as an essential service provider or getting vaccinated,” Mehta said.Stimulus checks: Americans say financial stability depends on economic impact paymentsCapitol riots aftermath: Black and white still define America as Biden prepares to take officeIn-store shoppers, full-service shoppers and shift lead workers are among those eligible for the Instacart vaccine stipend.Instacart is the second company recently to announce vaccine support for workers. Dollar General, which operates nearly 17,000 stores in 46 states, said Wednesday it will give employees the equivalent of four hours of pay if they get the vaccine.The Goodlettsville, Tennessee-based retailer said its salaried employees would get additional hours’ pay to make up for time away from work.Dollar General said the extra pay is intended to compensate for the travel time, mileage and child care expenses that employees could incur to get the vaccine. “We do not want our employees to have to choose between receiving a vaccine or coming to work,” the company said.A vaccine advisory panel at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control voted late last month on recommendations for vaccine distribution. The panel said grocery workers should be in the second group to receive shots after health care workers and nursing home residents.Firefighters, police, teachers, corrections workers, postal employees and others are in that second group, along with people 75 and older. There are around 50 million people in that group.Incentives for employees offer an alternative way to encourage workers to get the vaccine, as opposed to mandating them get shots, says Laura Boudreau, assistant professor of economics, Columbia Business School.”We know there is a fairly sizable share of the population who don’t want to get the vaccine or are reluctant to do so,” she said. “So it makes complete sense, to me, that we see employers with frontline workers trying to reduce the barriers for their employees to access the vaccines and maybe increasingly directly providing monetary incentives.”An “infodemic” or “pandemic of misinformation” has made some companies hesitate to encourage vaccinations, said Christopher Thompson, associ professor of biology at Loyola University Maryland. But he expects to see more companies consider moves such as those from Dollar General and Instacart.”I think there’s a big drive to return to some semblance of normalcy and if this is a way to try and push that, I think companies will do it,” Thompson said. “They may let Dollar General go first. But I think they very well may get in line.”Contributing: The Associated PressFollow Mike Snider on Twitter: @MikeSnider.


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