Hospital offering employees money in exchange for getting COVID-19 vaccine

Hospital offering employees money in exchange for getting COVID-19 vaccine
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One of Houston's largest hospitals is offering a $500 bonus to employees who receive a vaccine for COVID-19. 

The reporting of the bonus comes as health systems around the country have reported difficulties convincing health care workers to get vaccinated before their patients.

ABC News reported that Houston Methodist is among several health care systems in the U.S. offering financial incentives to encourage employees to get vaccinated to reduce the risk of COVID-19 outbreaks at facilities. The bonus, deemed a "hope bonus" by the company's CEO, was revealed to staff earlier in January in a letter obtained by ABC.

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"This bonus is a thank you for your perseverance throughout a difficult 2020, as well as something to look forward to, to provide hope, during the next couple of challenging months," wrote CEO Marc Boom. "Eligibility criteria will include getting a COVID-19 vaccination, fulfilling our obligation as health care workers to lead the community."

A county-run nursing home in Northampton County, Pa., is offering a similar program, according to ABC: Employees at the care home will reportedly receive $750 for being vaccinated.

Some health care workers have resisted taking a vaccine that is viewed in some quarters as insufficiently tested. A survey of nearly 6,000 employees at Jackson Health System in Miami, Fla., obtained by The New York Times indicated that hundreds had no plans or desire to receive the vaccine at all. Thousands of employees at a Michigan company that runs six hospitals in the state said the same.

"What we were hearing, as we began preparing our employees for vaccinations was that there was going to be a great deal of resistance to being vaccinated," Northampton County Executive Lamont McClure told ABC News.

A CDC tracker indicated Thursday afternoon that just over 10.2 million Americans have received the first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, with 29 million doses in total having been distributed.

Some health care systems have taken the opposite approach to ensure that employees are vaccinated. Atria Senior Living and Juniper Communities, two chains of elderly long-term care homes, told the Times that their employees would face termination if they went unvaccinated.

“For us, this was not a tough decision,” Juniper's CEO, Lynne Katzmann, told the Times. “Our goal is to do everything possible to protect our residents and our team members and their families.”