BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- Baltimore City employees on the fence about the COVID-19 vaccine now have another reason--or 1,000 reasons, to be exact--to get the shot.
In hopes of convincing unvaccinated employees to change their minds and get the vaccine, city officials on Tuesday announced that they'll give one-time payments of $1,000 to fully vaccinated employees.
"This incentive is about doing everything in our power to protect our employees and our residents. We are still in a pandemic. People are still losing their lives and getting seriously ill because they are not vaccinated," Mayor Brandon Scott said.
All fully vaccinated city employees are eligible to receive the incentive pay, the city said. Those who get fully vaccinated by Jan. 14, 2022, will also qualify.
The financial incentive represents the latest effort by the city to get its workforce vaccinated against COVID-19. In October, the city imposed a vaccine mandate, which requires those who aren't fully vaccinated to undergo weekly testing.
City Administrator Christopher Shorter said officials hope the incentive payments, combined with the vaccine mandate, will motivate employees to get the shot.
"We remain focused on prioritizing the safety of our workforce and the communities they serve so that we can continue to provide efficient and effective services throughout this pandemic," Shorter said in part.
The payments will be paid for with American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding.
As of Tuesday, nearly three-quarters (73.7%) of the city's workforce is vaccinated, according to city estimates. So far, 9,238 employees are fully vaccinated, though 3,303 have yet to disclose their vaccination status.
Under the vaccine mandate unvaccinated workers who don't submit to weekly testing could face disciplinary action including potentially being fired.
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