Hospital Offers Workers $500 to Get
COVID-19 Vaccine

Carolyn Crist

January 06, 2021

Editor's note: Find the latest COVID-19 news and guidance in Medscape's Coronavirus Resource Center.

Houston Methodist Hospital is offering $500 to employees as a "thank you" bonus for their hard work during the pandemic — and for taking both doses of a COVID-19 vaccine, according to CBS News.

The "Hope Bonus" will go out in March, Marc Boom, MD, president and CEO of the hospital system, wrote in an email to staff last week.

"Eligibility criteria will include getting a COVID-19 vaccination, fulfilling our obligation as health care workers to lead the community," he wrote.

The hospital also gave employees $500 bonuses about 6 weeks ago for working during the pandemic, and the upcoming bonus is meant to show extra gratitude. The Houston area has been a coronavirus hot spot, with more than 249,000 cases and nearly 2,700 deaths. According to TV station KHOU 11, the COVID-19 hospitalization levels by the end of next week are expected to surpass the July surge, which was the worst month of the pandemic in Houston.

"This bonus is a thank you for your perseverance throughout a difficult 2020 as well as something to look forward to, to provide hope, during the next couple of challenging months," Boom wrote.

Houston Methodist began giving COVID-19 vaccines to employees on Dec. 15. About 55% of the 26,000 employees have received the first dose of the vaccine, and thousands more have scheduled appointments, according to CNN. The health system isn't requiring vaccination at the moment but "will be eventually" for most workers, Boom wrote.

"There is a small minority of staff who I have spoken to on the floor who are reluctant," Roberta Schwartz, PhD, executive vice president and chief innovation officer for the health system, told CBS.

Some workers are watching how others handle the vaccine, she said. Others have general concerns about vaccines, and a few are worried about the COVID-19 vaccine in particular. At the same time, the public interest in the vaccine seems strong, she said.

"Our phones are inundated with people who want the vaccine. It's hard for us to feel the reluctance in the general society as we're only hearing from people who want it," she said. "Even our IT desk got 1,500 phone calls from people wanting this vaccine."

Sources:

CBS News: "Houston hospital offers workers $500 to get COVID-19 vaccine."

KHOU 11: "Houston Methodist says it expects to surpass July COVID-19 hospitalization levels soon."

CNN: "Houston hospital system is offering its employees a $500 bonus if they get Covid-19 vaccine."

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