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As workers refuse to get COVID-19 vaccine, some being offered incentives

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Posted at 9:14 AM, Jan 12, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-12 17:09:42-05

While many health care workers are getting the COVID-19 vaccine, some have been refusing, saying they want more data first. That’s despite reassurance from health leaders that the vaccines are safe.

The federal government hasn't released numbers on how often the refusals are happening. But we’re seeing some examples around the country.

At one state-run veterans’ home in Illinois, 90% of residents have been vaccinated, but only 18% of staff members. And at one hospital in rural Alabama, about 90 of some 200 workers there have yet to agree to get vaccinated.

One hospital system in Houston is giving workers an incentive to get vaccinated. Employees will get a $500 bonus in March, but only if they get the shot.

“If people are going to offer payment, I think they should be really clear about why they are doing so and that might help,” said Cynthia Cryder, Associate Professor of Marketing at Washington University in St. Louis.

The hospital system's president has done that, saying getting the shot is about "fulfilling our obligation as health care workers to lead the community."

Cryder studies consumer behavior and has looked at the issue of paying people to get the vaccine.

“When you're being paid to do something, people assume that there's a reason why and that might happen here. People might assume in this case that the vaccine is riskier than it is and or that the benefits don't go to the person getting the vaccine, but go to others, when of course they go to both in this case,” said Cryder.

She says there are situations where people could feel better about having an extra incentive to get vaccinated, like in the case of getting a vaccine as a requirement to travel to certain places.

She says in situations like this, the assumptions about why the benefit is in place are more in line with the benefits of the vaccine, like the ability to be around more people.