Cash, Breakfasts and Firings: An All-Out Push to Vaccinate Wary Medical Workers

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“If that doesn’t get you in line, I don’t know what will,” Georgia’s governor, Brian Kemp, said last month.

At Houston Methodist, a hospital system in Texas with 26,000 employees, workers who take the vaccine will be eligible for a $500 bonus. “Vaccination is not mandatory for our employees yet (but will be eventually),” Dr. Marc Boom, the hospital’s chief executive, wrote in an email to employees last month.

In an interview last week, Dr. Boom said the bonuses were “one of the many strategies to nudge people forward.” He added: “I do think we’ll get there. But I’m not naïve enough to think there aren’t people who are deeply resistant.”

At Norton Healthcare, a health system in Louisville, Ky., workers who refuse the vaccine and then catch Covid-19 will generally no longer be able to take advantage of the paid medical leave that Norton has been offering to infected employees since early in the pandemic. Instead, starting next month, unvaccinated workers will have to use their regular paid time off if they get sick with Covid-19, with limited exceptions.

Atlas Senior Living, which has 29 assisted living facilities and other communities across the Southeast, is offering workers up to four days of extra paid time off if they get vaccinated. (Some hourly workers at Atlas did not already have paid time off as part of their standard benefits.)

Atlas has sought to avoid “villainizing people that didn’t want to take it,” opting to focus on education and the reward of paid time off, said Scott Goldberg, Atlas’s co-chief executive.

Officials at Juniper and Atria said their decisions to require employees to get vaccinated were not driven by widespread hesitance among their staffs. Both chains will make exceptions for workers who are pregnant, are allergic to vaccine ingredients or have other compelling reasons to decline the vaccine.

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