Town uses $200 bonus to incentivize workers to get COVID-19 vaccine

Published 8:58 pm Saturday, October 23, 2021

A rural Alabama town voted to offer its employees a $200 incentive to get the COVID-19 vaccine using federal pandemic relief money.

Leaders in the Walker County town of Dora said they hoped the move would boost the vaccination rate in the city of 2,200, about 25 miles (40 kilometers) northwest of Birmingham, the D aily Mountain Eagle reported Thursday.

Mayor Randy Stephens, who is retired from the medical profession, said providing the vaccine bonus with federal funding “is a really good idea.”

“I understand some people are opposed to it. It wouldn’t make any difference if we gave them $1,000. They wouldn’t take it,” he said.

Opposition to vaccinations against the coronavirus has been persistent in some areas, particularly those with mostly white, conservative makeups. About 42% of the population is fully vaccinated in Walker County, roughly in line with the statewide average, according to statistics from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The city’s 40 workers have until Dec. 31 to provide verification that they are vaccinated.

Officials initially discussed an incentive of $100 per worker, but Council member George Sides Jr. said he didn’t know if that was enough since some people have reactions to the shots.

“Good point,” Stephens said. “My son was on the couch for three days.”

The panel increased the incentive to $200. Booster shots aren’t included, the mayor said.

More than 818,000 people have contracted COVID-19 in Alabama, and more than 15,370 have died, according to the state health agency.