Businesses in area starting to offer COVID-19 vaccine incentives, but $100 Biden suggestion not in Springfield’s plans

Published: Jul. 30, 2021 at 6:11 PM CDT|Updated: Jul. 30, 2021 at 6:33 PM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - On Thursday President Joe Biden made a plea to state and local governments across the country as the number of COVID-19 cases continues to rise and the federal government turns its attention to a more personalized approach in getting reluctant Americans to get the vaccine.

“I’m calling on all states and local governments to use funding they have received, including from the American Rescue Plan, to give $100 to anyone who gets fully vaccinated,” Biden announced.

The President’s suggestion of cash incentives has already been implemented by Missouri’s state government in the form of the new lottery that will eventually award 900 residents who get vaccinated $10,000 in cash or educational savings.

But if you live in Springfield or Greene County, don’t be holding your breath for that $100 gift should you decide to get a shot.

“It’s not something we’re looking at at this time,” replied Aaron Schekorra, the Public Information Administrator for the Springfield-Greene Co. Health Department, when asked if the local government had any plans of following Biden’s suggestion. “There are other incentives out there. We can’t match what the state is doing with the lottery. We just don’t have the same level of resources as the entire state government. So if we’re going to do something later it would probably come after that program has ended so that way we can try to pick up folks who missed out on that opportunity.”

The city though is offering incentives to its own employees with a $25 gift card and a day-off for any city employee who gets vaccinated.

The health department is also hoping that other businesses will follow suit.

“We’ve heard of employers giving things like cash, time-off, gift cards, and drawings for larger prizes,” Schekorra said. “We encourage that whenever we can. I think what a lot of employees appreciate is time off to get the vaccine and sick leave in case you do have a reaction to the vaccine so you’re not losing income when you’re trying to get a vaccine that’s protecting your workplace.”

One of the businesses who has jumped into the spirit of vaccine incentives is SRC, the employee-owned re-manufacturing company in Springfield that’s ranked by Forbes as one of its “Top 25 Small Businesses in the Country.”

SRC is offering every one of its 1800 employees in its 10 different divisions $100 for getting vaccinated as well as a chance at a plethora of prizes.

“We have a B-HAG....a big, hairy, audacious goal of 75 percent vaccinated,” said Krisi Schell, SRC’s Executive Vice-President of HR. “We will be raffling off up to $10,000 in prizes and give away six Tracker four-wheelers. And we’re seeing results. With fully-vaccinated associates and those who have their first shots in, we’re nearing 50 percent and we still have a month to go.”

Schell said SRC never considered an employee vaccine mandate and recommends the incentive approach to other businesses in the area because it also saves the companies money in lost worker time due to illness.

“We are focused on protecting each other, our company and our community,” she explained. “But one of our higher laws here is, ‘You gotta wanna’. We really look for people to make decisions for themselves. So we provided incentives rather than rules. I would encourage other employers in our community to consider ways to invest in their people and make sure they have the education they need to make an informed decision and to remove the barriers and give them access to where they can go to find the vaccine.”

Schekorra also said the health department is involved in door-to-door canvassing to encourage people to get vaccinated.

“Our outreach team has a few people that will go door-to-door usually in neighborhoods where vaccination clinics are scheduled,” he said. “We’ll knock on doors and let folks know that vaccinations are available in their neighborhood, ask them if they have any questions and leave door-hangers with information if they’re not home. We’ve seen pretty good success in promoting clinics that way.”

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