Dollar General announced on Wednesday that it will pay its employees to get a COVID-19 vaccine. The retailer made a press release stating employees would be paid for four hours of work if they showed proof that they had been vaccinated against the novel coronavirus. This incentive and others are appearing at more and more workplaces around the country, as vaccines become more widely available.
Dollar General has about 140,000 employees, according to a report by Reuters. In its announcement this week, the discount store said that hourly employees on the front line would get a one-time compensation for getting vaccinated based on their hourly wage. Meanwhile, it claimed it is working on similar accommodations for distribution and transportation teams. Salaried employees will get labor hours much like their hourly counterparts.
Dollar General was deemed "essential" during the first phase of stay-at-home orders and other lock-down measures since it traffics in groceries and other day-to-day supplies. Its ease of availability and low prices made it vital for some communities, allowing it to be one of the few retailers to stay open. The company has not yet mandated that employees get the coronavirus vaccine, only strongly encouraged them to if they are eligible.
Eligibility varies widely from state to state but is generally based on age and pre-existing medical conditions. Public health officials have been calling for expanded eligibility and increased vaccinations around the country, and this week the Trump administration acquiesced by changing its guidance to states. However, according to a report by CNN, the administration did not have enough doses to back that new guidance up.
The Secretary of Health and Human Services, Alex Azar issued new guidance on Tuesday telling states to vaccinate anyone aged 65 or older, in addition to those with pre-existing conditions. He said that the administration would be "releasing the entire supply for order by states, rather than holding second doses in reserve." However, in an interview with NBC News on Friday, he said: "There's not a reserve stockpile. We now have enough confidence that our ongoing production will be quality and available to provide the second dose for people, so we're not sitting on a reserve anymore. We've made that available to the states to order."
This apparent contradiction has left some states without enough doses to give the vital booster shot to those who need it in time. It has also stirred up a wave of confusion and panic surrounding the pandemic and vaccinations around the country. For the latest on vaccinations in your area, visit the CDC's website.