The administration at Macomb City Hall has proposed offering a financial incentive to encourage employees to get fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
"We are trying to incentivize our employees and not mandate that they get the vaccination," said City Administrator Scott Coker.
He said city workers who are already vaccinated and those who get vaccinated before the end of June would be paid $300 to net around $250. He estimated 60% of the city’s employees are already vaccinated.
Coker said it would cost $33,000 if all 110 of the city’s employees get vaccinated. The money would come from the American Rescue Plan (ARP), which is the federal government’s stimulus plan. He said the city received $800,000 from the first round of federal stimulus spending, known as the CURES Act.
But some aldermen balked at the proposal.
Alderman At-Large Dennis Moon suggested the money could be better spent educating people. He also said he would rather not get involved in the personal lives of the city’s employees.
“There’s not a problem getting the vaccination. If they are so anti-vaccination, their convictions must not be very strong if $300 can flip them,” Moon said.
Moon said much remains unknown, such as whether a booster vaccine will be required and whether an incentive program will be needed to encourage people to get that shot.
“I just think it’s headed down a road that we better be pretty careful where we go,” he said.
On the other side of the issue, Dr. Thomas Koch, who represents the Fourth Ward, said that for every person who gets vaccinated, there is one less person who can spread the virus.
“Our employees are in front of the public on a very regular basis, and for about three days before you get symptoms you are spilling that virus into the public,” Koch said.
Koch said COVID-19 is more dangerous than the flu, and added, “We’re not out of the woods yet by any means.”
The city council will decide Monday, June 7, whether to proceed with the program.
Vaccination incentive programs are already in place elsewhere. For example, McDonough District Hospital has one for its workers. The hospital administration said it will pay $250 to employees who are fully vaccinated by the end of this month.
Spokesperson Patrick Osterman said 355 MDH workers had received a COVID-19 vaccine as of June 3, and of that total 13 are waiting for a second dose. That’s out of a total of close to 500 employees.
He said the hospital’s president, vice presidents, and physicians are not participating in the bonus program.
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