Employers offer incentives to get COVID-19 vaccine

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- With the country still struggling with the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine, the timeline for when the country will reach herd immunity is still murky.

Some employers have begun incentivizing employees to get the vaccine in hopes it will encourage those who are on the fence about getting the shot.

According to health experts, about 70% to 90% of the population need to be vaccinated in order to achieve herd immunity.

A recent study from the University of Houston revealed about 3% of Texans who responded to the university's Hobby School survey said they already had received at least the first shot in the two-shot immunization process.

The study also found more than one out of five Texans surveyed, about 22%, will not accept a vaccine, citing concerns over side effects and the fact that the vaccine is still new.

With many hoping to get the spread of COVID-19 under control, how can that happen if the United States cannot reach herd immunity?

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For employees at Houston Methodist, a $500 bonus is being offered to those who get vaccinated and an employee newsletter states the vaccines will eventually become mandatory.

"Some people might say to themselves, 'Wait a minute, if they want to pay me to get vaccinated, then it must be more dangerous than I thought it was," said Woods Nash, a bio-ethics and medical humanities professor with University of Houston College of Medicine.

He explains the psychology behind offering incentives for the vaccine may backfire with some people and may upset those who have already received the shot without any kind of payment.

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"Understandably, many may be frustrated and say to themselves, 'Why wasn't I paid when I did what I was supposed to do?'" he said.

Instead of offering money, Nash believes any kind of incentive should create equity in getting the vaccine.

For example, a bus ticket to get to a vaccination site or offering a sick day for employees who cannot get the time off of work.

Nash said these types of incentives would be of tremendous help to those who face additional challenges in getting the vaccine and would encourage more people to get the shot.

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