A vaccine bonus is on the way for Manassas City, Virginia, employees.
On Monday night, the City Council voted to approve a $300 incentive or one day of paid vacation to all city government employees who show proof of their full COVID-19 vaccination by Nov. 15.
According to Human Resources Director Darla Hicks, the bonus is designed to encourage employees who haven’t already been vaccinated to do so before forthcoming U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration regulations mandating vaccination or weekly testing for entities with over 100 employees go into effect.
Hicks couldn’t say how many of the city’s roughly 500 employees have been fully vaccinated. Only 30% of employees have uploaded their information to the city’s human resources system, but it’s assumed many employees haven’t done so despite being vaccinated. If nothing else, Hicks said, the incentive should compel everyone who’s been vaccinated to upload their documentation, providing a clearer picture on how many employees are protected.
Hicks also said that the human resources department is waiting for directives from the Virginia Occupational Safety and Health Program and OSHA on what to do about employees who decline to get the vaccine. For now, “they’re going to miss out on that tremendous incentive,” Hicks told the council Monday night.
The incentive is not being offered to Manassas City Public Schools employees, but the school division will also have to respond once the new rules are released. School Board member Tim Demeria said it would be far more expensive for the school system to take on a requirement for all its employees, but that the requirement will eventually be in place. “It will be discussed, but it just hasn’t been yet.”
The three COVID-19 vaccines approved by the Federal Drug Administration are shown to be safe and effective. They both reduce the recipient’s likelihood of contracting and spreading COVID-19, as well as significantly reduce the likelihood of severe illness or death from COVID.
“We’re in a tough stretch, and it could last for a while,” President Joe Biden said when he announced the forthcoming mandate for large employers. “What makes it incredibly more frustrating is we have the tools to combat COVID-19, and a distinct minority of Americans, supported by a distinct minority of elected officials, are keeping us from turning the corner.”
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Jared Foretek covers the Manassas area and regional news across Northern Virginia. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org