Vaccine Incentives Introduces For Saline Public Employees

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Saline city officials are being offered incentives to get vaccinated against Covid-19.

“The vaccination incentive is a chance for us to really encourage our staff to get vaccinated if they’re healthy enough to do so and are so inclined to,” City Manager Colleen O’Toole said.

To be clear: this is an incentive and not a mandate. And there is also no time limit. City employees who decline to get vaccinated can change their mind and take advantage of the city’s offer if they get vaccinated later.

Full time public servants will be offered one additional day of vacation pay if they get vaccinated. Part time employees will be offered an additional stipend of $100.

O’Toole said that proof of vaccination will be required before as part of this new policy, which was approved by the council at their August 16 meeting. Part time employees who choose to get vaccinated will receive their extra $100 in the paycheck they receive after getting vaccinated.

“Incentives like this seem to be helpful in motivating individuals not yet vaccinated. For business and organizations, higher vaccination rates have the added benefit of decreasing the risk of severe illness and of additional isolation or quarantine. It also seems that incentives may be viewed with less suspicion if they come directly from employers as opposed to more broadly from government entities,” Susan Ringler-Cerniglia, a spokesperson for the Washtenaw County Health Department, said by email, Monday.

City Council ok’d a $20,000 budget to pay for this program for a staff that includes 62 full time and five part time employees. O’Toole said that the actual cost of this would be about $16,000 but asked for $4,000 more to acquire vaccine information for unvaccinated staff.

According to a memo from O’Toole, the city would also use the data from respondents to establish who is and who isn’t vaccinated among city staff. When asked by Councilor Janet Dillon, O’Toole confirmed that the incentive will be retroactive for staff who have already been vaccinated.

Councilor Girbach said that while he supports this measure, he would be interested in a vaccine mandate if and when the Food and Drug Administration gives its full approval to the vaccines. Pfizer and Moderna are both applying to have their current emergency use enhanced to full approval. The process was expedited because of the seriousness of the pandemic, but even the emergency approval process required stringent testing.

“I would vote to approve this only with the idea that this is still not completely approved vaccine. If this is completely approved, I think we can go without this program,” Councilor Jack Ceo said.

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