Cigna Joins Companies Offering Incentives to Vaccinated Workers

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For months after the first Covid-19 vaccines became available in December, people were willing to wait in line, obsessively refresh booking websites, and drive long distances for the shots.

That’s changing. Now, companies are starting to pay workers to get vaccinated, trying to encourage the hesitant or those who just haven’t had a chance to get the jab.

Cigna Corp. announced on Thursday that it will give workers who are fully vaccinated $200 in payments to their health-spending accounts, as well as emergency paid time off they can use to get their shots. Rival health insurer Anthem Inc. earlier this month said it would offer staff who get vaccinated a one-time credit toward health premiums.

Together, the moves are the latest indication that Americans who are eager to get inoculated against Covid-19 for the most part already have. More than 215 million doses have been administered, according to the Bloomberg Vaccine Tracker. Keeping up the pace of vaccinations, currently at about three million a day, will mean reaching people who face barriers to getting care and encouraging those who are on the fence.

President Joe Biden on Wednesday promoted a tax credit for firms with fewer than 500 employees intended to allow their workers to take time off for vaccinations.

The coronavirus vaccines currently being used in the U.S., from Pfizer Inc.-BioNTech SE and Moderna Inc., carry the risk of short-term side effects such as fever or fatigue. U.S. authorities have paused use of a third vaccine from Johnson & Johnson while they investigate rare instances of more serious blood clots.

Side Effects

Not having paid time off to get vaccinated or recover from potential side effects may deter some workers, especially people living check-to-check. In the first days of the vaccination campaign, hospitals staggered inoculations for their workers to avoid the risk of sidelining entire departments with side effects at the same time.

Roughly half of employers in a recent survey by benefits consultant Willis Towers Watson said they’re offering incentives like time off for workers to get vaccinated, or are considering doing so. A tenth of those were using financial incentives.

Most large companies are stopping shy of requiring vaccines but trying to encourage them with nudges and incentives.

Apple Inc. and several large banks have offered paid time off for vaccinations. Workers at Target Corp. can get four hours’ pay and transportation credit, and Kroger Co. offers a $100 payment.

Amazon.com Inc. offers front-line employees as much as $80 to be immunized. Walmart Inc. provides shots at its stores and gives associates two hours of paid time off to get theirs.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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