Greater Cincinnati companies and businesses worldwide see the COVID-19 vaccine as the way forward. But because the vaccines haven't been approved by the FDA - instead, they have emergency use authorization only - employers may have a problem making them mandatory. What are some companies doing and what incentives are they offering?
In the next month, the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber says to look for employers to strongly encourage their employees get vaccinated.
"We're going to get quickly to a point where there are plenty of vaccines and the message isn't, 'How do you sign up?' it's going to be 'Go sign up,' " says Chamber Executive Vice President Brendon Cull.
Cull says the business community is enthusiastic about helping to make sure people get vaccinated quickly.
WVXU surveyed a small number of employers.
At GE Aviation, vaccines are encouraged and the company is offering them on-site. According to Spokesman Perry Bradley, "We have begun offering vaccines to employees at the GE Family Wellness Center, which is staffed by TriHealth."
Bradley goes on to say, "We are prioritizing production employees at this time. Although supply is limited, we are pleased to be able to partner with the Hamilton County Health Department to accelerate vaccination efforts in the community."
At DHL Express, the company says getting the vaccine is "a personal choice and there are no incentives."
"We encourage all of our employees to be aware of their COVID-19 vaccine eligibility as these are continuously being updated. Since the beginning of the pandemic, we’ve encouraged our employees to maintain the best practices for combatting the virus and its spread; first, requiring all of our employees to wear masks and maintain social distancing at all times within our facilities, and now encouraging them to get informed about the COVID-19 vaccines that are available, the benefits of getting vaccinated, their eligibility, and then make an informed decision."
"We are not requiring employees to get vaccinated but are strongly encouraging it," Duke Energy Spokeswoman Sally Thelen says. "We're making every effort to allow employees time to schedule and get the vaccine, i.e., they can get it during the week if that is when they have an appointment and not have to make appointments for the weekends."
Thelen says as an incentive, Duke is providing "health reward points" similar to ones employees earn for getting a yearly physical or not using tobacco.
The University of Cincinnati
The University has formed a subcommittee of its COVID-19 Response Team to monitor federal and state vaccine distribution plans and coordinate with state and local health experts, according to this website.
Will the vaccine be mandatory for the 2021-2022 school year? UC says:
"With regard to the COVID-19 vaccines, UC's physician-led COVID Response Team advocates for vaccination as a safe and a significant contributor to the safety of our community. this, the university strongly recommends COVID-19 vaccination but will not mandate COVID-19 vaccination for students, faculty or staff for the coming academic year."
The Cincinnati janitorial service JANCOA employs 500 people to clean over 200 office buildings and is encouraging its employees to get the vaccine. CEO Mary Miller says most are fine with getting it. "Somehow we always know when there is negative talk going on but I'm hearing more of people talking about ways to find the vaccine," she says.
Miller is part of The Coalition to Stop the Spread, sponsored by the Ohio Business Roundtable. The goal is "to mobilize a grassroots effort by ordinary Ohioans to fight a pandemic that's crippling our economy and wreaking havoc on our families."
Incentives For Employees
Kroger told workers in February that if they get the vaccine it will pay them each $100.
According to the Chamber, the Taste of Belgium restaurant group is also paying its employees $100 to get the vaccine.
Perfetti Van Melle says it is strongly encouraging its employees to get the vaccine and is offering a cash incentive. CEO Sylvia Buxton says:
“We’re offering our employees an additional $300 in Wellbeing Reimbursement dollars as an incentive to get vaccinated as soon as eligible. This is an add-on to our existing $500 annual Wellbeing Reimbursement benefit. We also have a paid time off solution for our hourly production and warehouse employees to encourage vaccine appointments during non-working hours to minimize shift disruption."
The Chamber's Cull says there are resources about policies and vaccine availability including the Regional COVID Communications Center: